New services have dramatically shaken up the payments market in the past ten years. The trend away from cash has only accelerated since the pandemic. Customers enjoy greater choice than ever before, and are more likely to convert on ecommerce and retail sites if their preferred payment method is supported.
With so much variety and competition in the payments market, how can merchants and ecommerce business owners decide which services to offer their customers?
In this article, we’ll cover why selecting the right payment methods for your business is crucial and explore the best options with a full list of payment methods in the European market.
The types of payment methods
There are a few different types of payment methods that merchants should be aware of in 2022:
- Account-to-account bank transfers
- Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL)
- Direct debit
Each of the payment methods we’ll discuss later offers a variation on the systems listed above.
Do payment methods really matter?
In short, yes. Choosing the right payment methods for your checkout can have a massive impact on conversion rates. Despite higher transaction fees, retailers that offered BNPL payment options reported increases of up to 200% in units per transaction. The increasing popularity of open banking also signals the strong appeal of alternative payment methods. With 4.5 million open banking users as of early 2022, account-to-account transfers will only increase.
Critically, payment method preferences are significantly impacted by geography. In some EU regions, card ownership can vary by as much as 99% of the population to just 27%. Even if customers have cards, there is no guarantee that accepting card payments alone will be sufficient to drive conversions on your site due to local cultural preferences.
Let’s explore the most popular payment methods in Europe in 2022. For some payment methods, which are tailored to specific European markets, we haven’t listed their least popular geographies as they are primarily available in one location.
The list of payment methods in Europe
1) Visa and Mastercard Card Payments
Visa and Mastercard are both international financial services companies specialising in facilitating credit and debit card payments that are connected to bank accounts. With billions of users across the world, their global presence makes them a strong choice for merchants looking to offer popular payment methods to their customers.
Strongest geographies: United Kingdom, Spain, Poland
Weakest geographies: Italy, Germany, Norway
Launched in 1998, PayPal was the first financial technology company to allow customers to pay with an email address. The company achieved global fame when it was purchased by eBay in 2002. PayPal users create an account (eWallet) where they can hold funds and use them to make transfers to other customers and retailers.
PayPal’s average number of active daily users can vary considerably depending on location.
Strongest geographies: Germany, United Kingdom, France
Weakest geographies: Finland, Turkey, Czechia
The iDeal platform is a Dutch payment method that avoids the need for credit and debit cards. At the online checkout, the iDeal platform transfers you to your bank account so that you can make a direct transfer to the intended recipient. Over 53% of Dutch customers prefer to use iDeal at checkout.
Main geography: The Netherlands.
Giropay works in a similar way to iDeal, in that it facilitates bank to bank transfers. Also like iDeal, Giropay specialises in one target market: Germany. Giropay boasts connectivity to over 1,500 German banks across the country, all but guaranteeing German customers can execute a direct bank transfer to another German customer. Giropay accounts for 51% of all online purchases made in the country.
Main geography: Germany.
Recently purchased by BNPL company Klarna, Sofort has rebranded to PayNow in most of its target jurisdictions. It’s similar to both Giropay and iDeal, but is used more widely in a few countries in Europe.
Strongest geographies: Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium.
Weakest geographies: Poland, Italy, Spain.
Popular in Belgium, the Bancontact payment method relies on a single authentication to process payments. As with other payment methods in this list, users are transferred to a Bancontact window to authenticate before being redirected back to the original website for payment confirmation.
Main geography: Belgium.
Austrian banks allow their customers to use EPS, a bank-to-bank transfer payment method. 80% of Austrian merchants allow their customers to pay via EPS, so it’s worth considering if you do a lot of business in the country.
Main geography: Austria.
Customers can pay merchants with their bank details or via ATMs with the Multibanco payment method. Most popular in Portugal, the service is supported by all of the country’s banks.[Text Wrapping Break]
Main geography: Portugal.
9) SEPA Direct Debit
SEPA stands for the Single Euro Payments Area. Using this payment method, the merchant initiates the payment or a series of payments after receiving a customer mandate. The advantage of using SEPA Direct Debit is the seamless experience for both the customer and merchant, particularly when used for recurring payments.
Main geography: Europe.
BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) payment methods are on the rise. Klarna is by far the most famous example, with a recent valuation of $45.5 billion USD. BNPL payment methods are likely to face regulatory challenges that could impact the growth of their services. For now though, their popularity is impossible to deny.
From a customer perspective, BNPL systems work by charging installments until the full amount is paid.
Strongest geographies: United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany.
Weakest geographies: Spain.
Choose payment methods with your customers in mind
Providing access to the right range of payment methods is essential for modern merchants. By using an omnichannel payment gateway, merchants can extend the list of payment methods at checkout to drive maximum conversions.
You don’t have to host all payment methods. But tailoring your checkouts to your international customers will help your business to grow and thrive.
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