Canadians Deeply Divided on Use of Biometrics for Purchases

Smartphone payments are gaining ground among Canadians aged 18-to-34, while those aged 55 and over prefer credit cards.

Vancouver, BC [September 6, 2023] – Support for the notion of paying for goods and services through biometrics has grown in Canada over the past year, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 44% of Canadians say they would like to see people relying on fingerprints, palm recognition or iris scans to make purchases in their lifetime, up four points since a similar Research Co. poll conducted in April 2022.

More than two-in-five Canadians (45%, -4) say they would not like to see body measurements and calculations being used to buy things, while 11% (-1) are undecided.

“More than half of Canadians aged 18-to-34 (54%) would welcome a world where payments can be made through biometrics,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Their counterparts aged 35-to-54 (44%) and aged 55 and over (31%) are not as certain.”

Just under one-in-four Canadians (23%, +5) expect to be able to rely on biometrics to make purchases in the next five years, while a third (33%, +1) foresee this option becoming available in the next 10 years.

Canadians were also asked how much have they have used specific methods to buy things over the course of the past month.

Fewer than one-in-five financial transactions in Canada (18%) involved the use of cash, while two-in-five (40%) were made through a credit card and just under three-in-ten (28%) entailed a debit card.

Canadians across the country were less likely to make payments through a smartphone (7%), an e-transfer (6%) or a cheque (2%).

Credit cards are the method used in half of all purchases made by Canadians aged 55 and over (50%). Reliance on this method is lower among Canadians aged 35-to-54 (41%) and aged 18-to-34 (31%).

Fewer than three-in-ten transactions across all age groups are handled with a debit card. Canadians aged 18-to-34 are more likely to use their smartphone to make purchases (10%) than their older counterparts.

More than three-in-five Canadians (63%, =) say there was a time in the past month when they did not have any paper money with them and had to make a purchase of less than $10 with their credit or debit card.

Ontarians (71%) and Albertans (70%) are more likely to report having made a small purchase with a credit or debit card in the past month.

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted from August 17 to August 19, 2023, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error, which measures sample variability, is +/- 3.1 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.

778.929.0490 [e]