Cash is still the most popular means of payment in Germany in 2021, particularly, among respondents aged > 55 and individuals who rate their financial situation as rather poor. 58% of all daily payments are made in cash, and in terms of sales, the share of cash payments is 30%.
Nevertheless, Germans’ payment preferences and thus the payment method mix are changing. Debit cards (particularly, the “girocard”) are the second most common means of payment. 23% of all payments are made with them, and in terms of sales, payments with debit cards account for 30%.
Internet payment methods are also becoming increasingly popular, accounting for 5% of transactions. PayPal accounts for the majority of these transactions (84%), followed by Klarna with 8% and giropay / paydirekt with 4%.
Mobile payments gain in importance as well. 17% of all smartphone owners have already used their smartphone for mobile payments, which corresponds to a transaction and sales share of 3%. Of these, 38% used ApplePay, 25% payment apps from a bank or savings bank, and 18% Google Pay.
A comparison of payment methods at the point of sale and e-commerce also illustrates that traditional payment methods are increasingly replaced by innovative digital payment methods.
While Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) and digital / mobile wallets accounted for 5% and 4% of payments at the point of sale, their shares in e-commerce are 29% and 20%, making them the most popular payment methods in this channel.
Germans’ preference for cash seems to result from a partially distorted perception of the advantages of cash over other payment methods. The most frequently cited advantage of cash payments was privacy (55%), followed by a good overview of spending (48%), and the possibility of immediate payment processing (43%). However, modern digital payment methods such as digital /mobile wallets also offer these advantages.
In summary, it can be stated that traditional payment methods are still very popular in Germany, but digital alternatives are increasingly shaping the payment method mix.
Eschelbach, M., Lorek, K., Novotny, J., Pietrowiak, A., & Seiler, V. (2022). Zahlungsverhalten in Deutschland 2021. Frankfurt am Main: Deutsche Bundesbank.
FIS (2022). The Global Payments Report.