Nearly 80 per cent of Canadians aged 18 and older reported using free versions or purchasing digital products, such as music and video streaming services, e-books, online games, mobile applications (apps) and computer software from July 2017 to June 2018, says Statistics Canada.
Over the same period, 28 per cent of adults in Canada reported making money through online platforms. Digital payment methods, such as credit or debit cards and online banking, were used the most for all personal spending, added the federal agency on Wednesday.
“The increasing digitalization of the economy is transforming the ways that Canadians buy, consume and sell goods and services,” it said.
The StatsCan survey said about 90 per cent of people aged 18 to 44 purchased or used free versions of digital products in the 12 months to June 2018. This rate dropped to 51per cent for those aged 65 and older.
“Two-thirds of adults in Canada purchased digital products from July 2017 to June 2018. This proportion decreased with age, as 83 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 24 reported buying at least one digital product. The proportion fell to 40 per cent for those aged 65 and older,” said StatsCan.
“Income was also a factor, as 91 per cent of those with an annual personal income of more than $100,000 reported purchasing digital products. The rate dropped to 59 per cent for people with an annual personal income of less than $40,000. Those who purchased digital products spent $8.1 billion from July 2017 to June 2018 or an average of $412 per purchaser. There was little difference in average spending between age groups, except for those 65 and older who had lower average spending. Men ($505) spent more on average than women ($312), and Canadians with annual personal incomes above $100,000 spent roughly 50 per cent more on average than lower income groups.”
The report said digitization is affecting the way Canadians pay for the goods and services they buy. In the 12 months to June 2018, the bulk of total personal spending (76 per cent) by Canadians aged 18 and older was done using digital payment methods, including debit and credit cards, preauthorized payments or online banking, it said.
“At the same time, cash or cheque were used for 21 per cent of all personal spending, while other payment methods, such as reward points and gift cards, accounted for the remainder. On average, Canadians 65 years of age and older used cash for 30 per cent of their total personal spending, while those aged 35 to 44 years used digital methods for 80 per cent of all their spending,” added Statistics Canada.
Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald, including 12 years as a senior business writer.