Taxonomy of Payments: A Repertory Grid Analysis

Jonas Hedman, Felix B. Tan, Jacques Holst, Martin Kjeldsen

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Recent innovations in payment instruments have fundamentally changed the ways we pay. These innovations, such as mobile/SMS payments and online banking, contain features that are likely to influence how people choose to pay. The purpose of this paper is to understand the factors that impact payers’ choice of payment instruments.
Through in-depth interviews using the repertory grid technique, the authors explored 15 payers’ perceptions of six payment instruments, including coins, banknotes, debit cards, credit cards, mobile payments, and online banking. The approach draws heavily on organizational systematics to better understand payers’ choice of payment instruments.
A four-category taxonomy of payments was developed. The authors refer to the taxonomy as the 4Ps: the purchase, the payer, the payment instrument, and the physical technology. The taxonomy comprises 16 payment characteristics consisting 76 payment features that influence payers’ instrument choice. One characteristic not known in prior research was identified – that is, “cancellation” – a characteristic more frequently associated with digital payment instruments than with cash or checks.
Research limitations/implications:
The findings suggest that payers view payment instruments in a much broader sense, including context, control, or cultural beliefs. Consequently, the authors suggest that researchers try to understand the essence of an innovation before assuming any economic rationalism in human or organizational behavior. The authors also urge researchers to understand the underlying meaning behind constructs of interest; as this study has shown that concepts like context and convenience have many different interpretations.
Practical implications:
According to McKinsey (2014) there are over 12,000 startups in the payment arena. For them, the taxonomy can function as a template for the design of payment instruments, as well as understanding the various factors that influence payer choice of payment instruments.
The main contribution of this paper is the 4Ps taxonomy of payments. The taxonomy builds on and extends the work by Hirschman (1982). Since this work, and despite recent trends in payments, there has not been a comprehensive investigation that takes into account more recent innovations in payment instruments.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Bank Marketing
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)75-96
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Payment instruments
  • Repertory grid
  • Taxonomy of payments

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