Snapshot of payment habits in the EU


A lot of attention has been paid to the impact of COVID-19 on European consumers’ payment habits as the crisis forces us to rethink what is safe and leads us to digitalise faster than ever.

Throughout this article, we will take a small step back to observe a few key European e-commerce market’s and consumers’ preferred payment methods in each of them. Those markets provide interesting examples of the – still – fragmented consumer habits across the EU, but also provide  an interesting illustration of various trends shaping the European retail payment market.

The data presented have been extracted from Europe 2020 Ecommerce Region Report, July 2020 (Ecommerce Europe/EuroCommerce).  The research has been conducted in 2019, therefore, further discussion and analysis are needed to assess the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on payment habits in the EU.

France is characterised by a strong and constant dominance of credit cards.  80% of the e-commerce turnover in 2019 was made through credit cards. With the increase of the cap on contactless payment in stores during the COVID-19 crisis, this dominance of the card market is likely to continue. An interesting trend that will need to be monitored is the growth of online banking payments, which represent 11% of the e-commerce turnover. It will be interesting to see how PSD2 and other building blocks that will be developed in the coming years will impact this share.

Markets like the Netherlands are heavily influenced by the existence of popular national schemes like iDEAL. What is interesting to note is that strategic choices by these schemes, therefore, have a certain influence on consumer habits. For example, if we look like at the ambition to make instant payment the “new normal” in the Netherlands. This raises the question of ambitious national strategies for retail payments that need to be reconciled  with the objectives of the European retail payment strategy.

Going more north (and outside of the EU), Norway gives an interesting example of digital national payment solutions. Credit cards are still very popular, but the Norwegian smart-payment service Vipps is growing. This mobile-payment solution has been brought about by the desire of Norway’s banks to work collaboratively with customers in developing a platform that is easy to use, instant and innovative.

Finally, it is interesting to highlight that in certain markets, cash remains important even in e-commerce. In Hungary for example, cash on delivery represents a share of 42% of all e-commerce transactions. It will be interesting to monitoring the impact of COVID-19 and e-commerce in these markets.

To conclude, we see that there are persisting “national” (or regional) payment habits in the EU, with varying consumer expectations. In parallel, we see a growing market for cross-border e-commerce and a strong demand for secure, convenient, cost-efficient pan-European payment solution(s). It will be crucial to reflect on how those different trends could work together to offer the best solutions possible to retailers and consumers.