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While cash remains prevalent at POS in Europe, contactless payments through credit and debit cards are experiencing a surge in popularity

In the ever-evolving landscape of consumer behavior and technology, the “Europe POS Payment Methods 2023” report, published recently by Hamburg-based market intelligence firm yStats.com, sheds light on the changing trends in payment habits across the continent. With the widespread adoption of digital channels, buyers are embracing diverse methods of purchasing, leading to a significant impact on the traditional point-of-sale (POS) infrastructure.

Contactless POS payment methods such as digital wallets gain popularity amid declining cash usage

The report highlights that consumers globally, though gradually returning to in-store purchases, continue to rely on digital payment methods when paying offline. As of April 2022, 52% of consumers opted to pay less in cash, with 36% choosing contactless payment methods. Sellers and merchants are adapting to this shift in demand, moving away from conventional POS systems and embracing advanced technologies such as smart POS, soft POS, and mPOS. Debit cards emerged as the preferred POS payment method among global buyers, with over half of merchants considering them essential as of 2022. The security benefits they offer, along with the ease and convenience of payment, contribute to their popularity.

Alternative POS payment methods such as mobile payments, and contactless payments, among others, see growth across Europe

Despite the dominance of cash in Europe, with 95% of physical locations accepting cash payments, there has been substantial growth in the use of contactless credit and debit cards. In 2022, over 60% of card payment transactions at POS were contactless. Countries such as Finland, Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg are leading the way with the highest share of card payments at POS. Cash remains a preferred payment method for in-store transactions for 59% of surveyed respondents in Europe as of June 2022. However, other advanced POS payment methods, such as QR code payments, digital wallets, and payments via loyalty programs, are gaining traction. Klarna’s new loyalty card feature, for instance, allows users to store their loyalty cards digitally in the Klarna app, streamlining the payment process and enhancing customer experience.

In the UK, debit cards and cash were the top two most used POS payment methods as of April 2022, with almost half of shoppers preferring to pay with cash. Nevertheless, proximity mobile payments in the UK are projected to witness a surge, with an estimated 16 million proximity mobile payment users by 2026.

Moreover, Germany has seen significant growth in contactless physical card usage at POS, reaching almost three-quarters of all card payment transactions as of 2022. The Giro card dominated the POS payment landscape, accounting for a share of 42% of all card payments used at POS, followed by credit cards at 6%.