Research - 06.05.2021 - 00:00

Swiss Payment Monitor: credit cards now the means of payment with the highest turnover

Since the beginning of the pandemic, credit cards have massively gained in importance in comparison with other means of payment. In addition, contactless payment is evolving into the new standard, for which the robust growth of payments transacted with mobile phones is par-tially accountable. This is revealed by the Swiss Payment Monitor of ZHAW and the University of St.Gallen.

6 May 2021. Credit cards are the means of payment with the highest turnover in Switzerland: people spend most money with them, namely 24 per cent of their expenses. In second place are invoices (22 per cent), followed by debit cards (21 per cent) and cash (13 per cent). This is revealed by the Swiss Payment Monitor, which was conducted by ZHAW and the University of St.Gallen for the fourth time. More than 1,400 people who were representative of the whole of Switzerland were interviewed.

Cash payments are most frequent

In comparison with the preceding year, credit cards thus knocked debit cards off the top spot. “This was primarily caused by the increase in online purchases since the beginning of the co-rona pandemic,” explains ZHAW means of payment expert Marcel Stadelmann. In terms of the number of transactions, cash is still the most frequently used means of payment with a share of 32 per cent, just ahead of debit cards (31 per cent). In terms of turnover, however, the use of cash decreased by 10 percentage points, and the number of transactions declined by ap-prox. 13 percentage points in comparison with the preceding year. This shows that even smaller amounts are increasingly paid without cash. On average, Swiss people only have about 50 francs in cash on their person (-29 per cent).

Every tenth payment is made through a mobile device

Payments with mobile devices (predominantly mobile phones) have more than doubled within a year in terms of turnover, and the number of transactions have also increased by more than half. “By now, almost 10 per cent of all transactions are conducted with a mobile device, re-gardless of the amount,” says Tobias Trütsch, payment economist at the University of St.Gallen. “Growth was enormous, particularly with the smallest amounts and online pay-ments.” In distance business, mobile devices are even the most frequently used means of payment, with just under 30 per cent of transactions, followed by invoices (29 per cent) and credit cards (22 per cent).

Mobile payments are most frequently transacted through an app with an integrated payment function (21 per cent of transactions through mobile devices), with the purchase of tickets through apps from public transport companies being a case in point. Besides, many people use their mobile phones for payments in shops with QR codes (20 per cent) and contactless data transmission (NFC) (13 per cent). In-app payments are also the form of payment that people like best, followed by transfer to private individuals by means of payment apps such as TWINT and payments in the internet with QR codes and posted payment data.

Pandemic boosts contactless payments

Contactless payments are not only the new standard with mobile phones but also with pay-ment cards. Contactless payments with cards now account for approx. three out of five trans-actions and half the turnover. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the respective shares have increased by about 10 percentage points each. “Particularly the raising of the limit for contact-less payments without PIN to 80 francs and the encouragement provided by dealers were the crucial factor here,” explains Tobias Trütsch.

One out of five uses neobanks

Furthermore, one out of five Swiss people has used at least one new online banking solution provided by neobanks. Its use is particularly widespread among men and in German-speaking Switzerland. All in all, two out of three people in Switzerland are aware of at least one of the most popular neobanking providers. The best-known are CSX of Credit Suisse (40 per cent brand awareness), Revolut (37 per cent) and Zak (29 per cent). Revolut is used most frequent-ly (10 per cent of interviewees), followed by TransferWise (like Revolut a British provider) and the Swiss provider Neon (6 per cent of interviewees each).

The main reasons for the use of neobanks are their simple and practical operation, as well as quick transfers and constant availability. “Interestingly, favourable fee structures and, in partic-ular, the advantageous exchange rates are no longer as crucial as they were in preceding years,” says Marcel Stadelmann. Three out of five users of neobanks avail themselves of their online banking services as a complement to conventional providers. About 10 per cent have terminated services provided by a conventional provider because of the new online banking services, and 30 per cent intend to do so in future.