Will the coronavirus change our payment habits in the long term?
Executive Education / 15 May 2020
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Marketing & Sales Koordinatorin
Michelle Neumann is Marketing & Sales Coordinator Professional & Executive Education at Frankfurt School.

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Clearly many things have changed in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. People have become more concerned about hygiene and realised how much society depends on flour and toilet paper. Even the environment may have benefited – restrictions on tourism and industrial activities mean that air quality has improved in many countries, while polluted waterways like the canals in Venice appear to be recovering. Another significant change is that since March this year, we have been asked to make cashless payments whenever possible, so we have been avoiding banknotes and coins and using our debit cards much more often than before. But will this change in our buying behaviour continue once the coronavirus crisis has passed?

Trend or tradition?

A Brandwatch survey addresses precisely this issue – but was carried out before the pandemic. As part of the survey, 1,012 adults in Germany were asked questions about various aspects of online banking. The results showed that at the time of the survey, some 45% of Germans did not use any form of online banking. The main reasons were, they regarded personal contact as too important, and online banking made them feel anxious about their personal (data) security.

By the same token, it is important for Germans to be able to pay by cash in restaurants and shops – 55% of the respondents felt this was essential. The reasons people prefer to pay by cash are many and varied: it is easier to keep track of spending, it is untraceable, and there is no risk of accumulating debt using this payment method. The only exceptions appear to be service stations and clothes shops. Here, Germans prefer to pay by card.

A comparison with other countries clearly shows that Germans are still very conscious of their traditions and for the time being – in contrast to Australia, the UK, Singapore, France, Spain and the USA – much prefer to use cash.

As times change, habits change

However, an analysis of current social media discussions on the subject of payment suggests that Germany as a whole is giving it a lot of thought. In mid-March, the topic was mentioned more than 110,000 times on social media – a 60% increase over the previous month.

Just exactly how the crisis will impact consumer behaviour in the long term is not yet clear. While Germans prefer to pay by cash, they are currently experiencing the benefits of contactless payment – and this could cause attitudes to change in the future. For companies, this represents a valuable opportunity. Businesses that offer help and advice in the form of useful, practical content could significantly enhance their reputations. The survey clearly shows that for German bank customers, excellent customer service is enormously important.

Those wishing to improve their knowledge of payment methods and payment transactions may be interested in our Certified Payment Professional certification course.