Cold, Hard E-Cash: Distributing Survey Participation Incentives through Mobile Pay Applications

In recent years, the rising popularity of online surveys has led to a new set of challenges for survey researchers, particularly as it concerns the distribution of survey participation incentives. Traditionally, respondents receive monetary incentives via direct mail in the form of cash or check, but this approach poses a problem for members of online samples, whose residential addresses may not be available.

Digital transactions—especially those made via mobile pay applications like Venmo or Zelle—offer one potential solution for survey researchers. Beyond the growing popularity of E-cash among American consumers, preliminary findings from our small, online Qualtrics survey suggest that their popularity may extend to survey respondents, as well. Among our sample of young adults, over 90% preferred to receive their post-survey incentive through a mobile pay application compared to direct mail. We discuss some of the implications of this finding, as well as some of the costs and benefits of using mobile pay applications for survey incentives more broadly.

Neman, Tiffany S., Jennifer Dykema, Dana Garbarski, Cameron Jones, Nora Cate Schaeffer, and Dorothy Farrar-Edwards. 2022. “Survey Monetary Incentives: Digital Payments as an Alternative to Direct Mail.” Survey Practice 15(1).