Following much speculation, not to mention predictions by various researchers, a representative survey has now indicated that there is indeed no smoke without fire –Germans are becoming increasingly enthusiastic about contactless and mobile payments. In May-June 2020, Visa joined with polling research institute forsa to conduct an online survey of around 1,800 German consumers (all over 18). The survey explored their attitudes to contactless, mobile and digital payments, as well as user behaviour in the mobile payment segment. The COVID-19 crisis has played a not insignificant role in driving this trend.
One of the factors that has contributed to this change in behaviour are the new hygiene-related issues associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For 55% of respondents, the fact that by paying contactlessly, they can avoid coming into direct contact with cash tills – or indeed, actual cash – is a big advantage. 25% (a quarter) of respondents have developed a more favourable attitude towards contactless payment since the outbreak of the pandemic, while one in three respondents (38%) now use contactless payment methods more often than they did before the crisis. Mobile payment methods are also winning over growing numbers of consumers by allowing them to authenticate themselves on their own smartphones and so avoid coming into direct contact with POS terminals even when paying larger amounts.
“Cash is steadily becoming less popular – instead, people are looking for digital payment methods that meet their needs. It’s a cross-generational thing: Everybody wants faster payment processes and instant electronic summaries of their spending. That’s why we believe we’re seeing a major, long-term change in buying behaviour in Germany.“
Albrecht Kiel, Regional Managing Director Central Europe bei Visa
But the hygiene concerns kindled by the COVID-19 pandemic are not the only reasons for this shift in consumer attitudes. For consumers, convenience appears to play an even more important role than hygiene. The highest priority for survey respondents was being able to keep track of their spending – as confirmed by nine out of ten consumers (90%). Six out of ten respondents (61%) wanted to be able to see immediately how much they had spent and where. Almost as many of them (59%) were relieved that they no longer have to visit an ATM before making a purchase, and one in two respondents (51%) expected to be able to pay quickly. In short, a mobile or contactless payment system should be faster and faster to use, user-friendly, and make it easy to track spending.
The survey also revealed that consumers now expect to be able to make digital payments anywhere – even in smaller retail outlets, which have traditionally tended to rely on cash. Just under half of the respondents who already pay contactlessly (48%) would prefer to make contactless payments in, for example, their local bakery; 15% even admitted to actively avoiding certain shops because they only accept cash payments. 85% of mobile payment users would make mobile payments even more often if all German cash tills offered this option. So increasingly, digital payments are something which consumers are prepared to make – frequently and willingly – as a matter of course.
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