Card payments on the rise

Cashless payment is also on the rise in Austria, but in an international comparison Austria is only in the lower midfield, shows the regularly recurring Global Payment Report of the consulting group Boston Consulting (BCG). In 2020 there were 214 cashless transactions per capita in Austria – by 2025 there should be 289, expects BCG partner Markus Ampenberger. In the Nordic countries there are already around 500, with Bulgaria at the bottom only 44.

It’s a cultural thing, says Ampenberger. In Austria as in Germany, cash traditionally plays a major role. In the short term, the pandemic gave a significant boost to digital payments. In the long term, the possibility of contactless payment will lead to greater use of electronic means of payment. The fact that smaller companies are increasingly asking their customers to make contactless payments also gives the method a boost.

Young people are not only technologically more open to cashless payments, they also worry less about data protection and data security or whether their shopping behavior can be tracked, says Ampenberger. For young people in particular, it is very convenient to store a credit card or an account in the digital wallet and then make contactless payments with the mobile phone.

Cashless payments are developing particularly strongly in countries where you can pay by QR code. Even if models like Amazon to go prevail – where you log into the store using your mobile phone and the goods are automatically billed – that would give a strong boost to cashless payment transactions.

Although there is a risk of fraud with digital payments, there are basically no major problems and the payment systems have proven to be resilient and robust. The systems would have to be designed to withstand the onslaught on the last Saturday of Christmas shopping or on “black Friday”. Collapses in normal business are not to be expected.

The business with payment services is huge – financial institutions of all kinds generated around 1.5 trillion dollars (1.3 trillion euros) in revenue worldwide from processing payment transactions, fees and interest income (e.g. from checking accounts or credit cards) in 2020. Despite Corona, the yield surprisingly remained stable compared to 2019. And BCG expects further growth. By 2030, earnings should practically double to $ 2.9 trillion. For Austria alone, BCG has calculated income from payment services of $ 2.8 billion in 2020 – the consulting firm expects only a slight increase to $ 2.9 billion by 2025.

BCG calculates payment behavior from various data from central banks and statistical offices. In addition, there are BCG-internal assessments from the local payment experts, for example on the development of the profit margins in the products.


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