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Europe North America Paytech Spotlight

Eight in Ten North Americans Have Tried a New Payment Method Following the Pandemic’s Digitisation

More than eight in ten (86%) of US, Canadian and European consumers say that their payments habits have changed since the start of the pandemic, with 59% trying a new payment method for the first time, rising to 77% in the 18 to 24-year-old age group. That’s according to new research released by leading specialised payments platform Paysafe, in which 8,000 consumers were surveyed for the company’s latest Lost in Transaction report.

The research, which was conducted on behalf of Paysafe by Sapio Research in March and April 2021 and covers the UK, Germany, Italy, Austria, and Bulgaria as well as North America, explored changing consumer behaviours towards payments. Unsurprisingly, the key driver cited by respondents for adopting new payments methods was due to being unable to make in-person payments (33%), but the need to track spending more closely (26%) and concerns over fraud (25%) also came up as strong trends.

In terms of awareness, more than a third (38%) of consumers say they are now more informed of the wide range of different payment methods available to them than they were prior to the pandemic, and almost a third (31%) are now more likely to use an alternative payment method when making an online purchase, rather than just automatically reaching for their credit or debit card.

That said, card payments continue to be the dominant online payment method overall, with more than half of global consumers having used a debit (54%) or credit (51%) card to complete a transaction in the past month. Against this backdrop, however, digital wallets are emerging as the most popular alternative payment method (APM) with 43% of respondents using them globally in the last month. While monthly usage is significant in the US (40%), it rises as high as 47% in the UK and 55% in Italy.

James Booth, VP Head of Partnerships, EMEA at PPRO said, “Thanks to evolving consumer shopping behaviour, the rate of alternative payment adoption is continuing to move at lightspeed. Following the nationwide lockdown earlier this year, the shift to online shopping continues to accelerate, and with it the use of alternative payment methods (APMs), such as mobile payments, bank transfers, pay later schemes and e-wallets.

Klarna, a payment provider operating on a buy now, pay later concept, was crowned one of Europe’s biggest privately-owned financial technology providers – with nine million consumers in Britain have used the service, and 90 million users worldwide.

“With over 450 significant local payment methods in use across the globe, merchants who sell cross-border are learning it is no longer adequate to simply offer only credit or debit card payments to consumers. From an increasing use of PayPal to bank transfers and mobile wallets (Apple and Google Pay), consumers now have more choice of payment methods than ever before.”

Digital wallets

Overall, 32% of consumers globally are using digital wallets more frequently than prior to the pandemic. Prepaid cards are being used more frequently by 13% of global consumers, with their popularity higher in the US (16% of Americans). And 8% of Europeans and North Americans are using online cash, or eCash, solutions more regularly, with specific US usage again slightly higher (11%).

The research also reveals that having a choice of payments at the online checkout has been a key differentiator, even more so during the pandemic, with more than half (53%) of global consumers agreeing they would not return if they suffered a poor experience or lack of choice. Although a large proportion of consumers (63%) seek tighter payment security measures, the number of consumers prioritising convenience has increased by 110% in the past 12 months.

Debit or credit?

Despite the shift away from credit and debit cards, they remain some of the most secure ways of making a payment, meaning they will always be seen as a failsafe for making secure payments. Other popular methods of secure payments include wire transfers, unified payment interface (UPI), and third-party payment services like PayPal, Payoneer, Skrill and more.

When it comes to in-store shopping, 43% of consumers also noticed which retailers made efforts to upgrade their checkout in reaction to the pandemic, with 28% saying that businesses did not react quickly enough to make it safer. However, 48% of global consumers and half (50%) of Americans reveal they are planning to shop in stores as frequently as they did pre-covid-19, highlighting the importance of an updated checkout for offline retailers too. Offering contactless payments in-store appears essential, with 28% of Americans refusing to shop at retailers without tap-and-pay.

And, indicating the perhaps surprising comeback for cash after the pandemic, 50% of global consumers plan to make at least 25% of their transactions using cash in the future. Leading European countries and Canada, a third (33%) of Americans will avoid stores where they can no longer pay with cash.

Philip McHugh, CEO at Paysafe, commented: “Consumers have adapted and gotten to grips with alternative payment methods over the last year, partly because they had to due to the pandemic. Through our ongoing research into payment trends, we continue to witness that covid-19 has been a real accelerator in the adoption of alternative payment methods and choice is everything. The good news is, it’s now easier than ever for merchants to integrate into a payments platform and access a huge range of payments methods via one connection.

“Concerns around payments security have also been a constant theme coming through in our research, and consumers are increasingly alert to the threat of cyber risks, so it’s not just about offering choice, it’s also about ensuring peace of mind from a security standpoint, coupled with a frictionless experience. No doubt about it, this has been a tough year for retail, but we’re also seeing many merchants – both online and offline – swiftly adapt to these trends and modify their payments offering to remain competitive; the ones that succeed to do this will be the ones who emerge from this crisis stronger than before.”


  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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