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Expanding into Europe: The changes you need to make to your payments

If you duplicate your US approach to payments in Europe, it’s unlikely to bring you the same success. Why? Cultural differences about how European businesses and consumers like to pay. 52% of US businesses, for example, are likely to pay their regular business bills on a corporate card. In Germany it drops to 36%, and in the UK it plummets to just 27%.

There are two reasons why your customer’s payment preference is essential to account for:

  1. It means the difference between a new customer and a lost prospect - If your business doesn’t offer new potential customers the payment method they want to pay by, they’ll go to a competitor that does.

  2. It’s the gatekeeper of benefits - Say you currently offer your customers one payment method. You’re deciding between two other payment methods to add to the mix. One of those payment methods appears more beneficial to your business, saving you more time and money than the alternative. That may be true in theory, but if that payment method is only preferred by, say, 10% of the market you’re offering it in, you’re only going to see 10% of those benefits. Ultimately, the alternative payment method may end up the better choice for your business.

Expanding into France?

If you’re a B2B business:

  • French businesses most prefer to pay by Direct Debit (equivalent to ACH debit) and bank transfer

  • Direct Debit is most preferred for regular business bills (e.g. utility or insurance bills) and digital subscriptions

  • Bank transfer is most preferred for invoices (e.g. from accountants or marketing agencies) and instalments (e.g. paying off loans)

If you’re a B2C business:

  • French consumers most prefer to pay by Direct Debit

  • Preference for Direct Debit is ahead of other payment options most significantly for household bills, and least significantly for online subscriptions (though it is still the most preferred payment method)

  • Debit cards tend to be second most preferred, ahead of credit cards and digital wallets like PayPal

See more data and insights into French business payment preferences and French consumer payment preferences.

Expanding into Sweden?

If you’re a B2B business:

  • Swedish businesses most prefer to pay by bank transfer

  • For regular business bills and instalments, Direct Debit is the second most preferred payment method

  • For invoices and digital subscriptions, corporate card is the second most preferred payment metho

If you’re a B2C business:

  • Swedish consumers prefer to pay for both traditional (e.g. gym membership) and online (e.g. Netflix) subscriptions by Direct Debit or debit card

  • For household bills, Swedish consumers show high preference for paying by Direct Debit

  • Swedish consumers, compared to those in other key regions around the world, have high negative sentiment towards digital wallets like PayPal

See more data and insights into Swedish business payment preferences and Swedish consumer payment preferences.

Expanding into Germany?

If you’re a B2B business:

  • German businesses most prefer to pay by bank transfer

  • Direct Debit is a strong second preference, well ahead of cards and digital wallets like PayPal

  • The payment method German businesses show greatest negative sentiment for is digital wallets like PayPal

If you’re a B2C business:

  • German consumers most prefer to pay by Direct Debit

  • They exhibit some preference towards using digital wallets like PayPal, however it is significantly less than that of Direct Debit

  • Credit and debit cards are least preferred, which aligns with market payment data from the European Payments Council that shows card adoption in Germany is low

See more data and insights into German business payment preferences and German consumer payment preferences.

Expanding into Denmark?

If you’re a B2B business:

  • Danish businesses most prefer to pay by Direct Debit

  • Bank transfer is second most preferred

  • Digital wallets like PayPal see greatest negative sentiment

If you’re a B2C business:

  • Danish consumers most prefer to pay by Direct Debit

  • Credit and debit cards are also very popular relative to other European countries

  • Preference for digital wallets like PayPal is amongst the lowest of key European markets

See more data and insights into Danish business payment preferences and Danish consumer payment preferences.

Expanding into Spain?

If you’re a B2B business:

  • Spanish businesses most prefer to pay by Direct Debit

  • Bank transfer is second most preferred

  • Preference for digital wallets like PayPal is amongst the lowest of key European markets

If you’re a B2C business:

  • Spanish consumers tend to prefer paying by Direct Debit, except for online subscriptions (where digital wallets like PayPal come out on top)

  • Digital wallets are significantly more preferred by Spanish consumers than other key markets around the globe

  • Credit and debit cards tend to split opinion, with similar amounts of consumers liking them and disliking them

See more data and insights into Spanish business payment preferences and Spanish consumer payment preferences.

Expanding into the UK?

If you’re a B2B business:

  • British businesses prefer to pay by Direct Debit, except for invoices where bank transfer is most preferred

  • Bank transfer holds strong second place preference, well ahead of preference for corporate card

  • British businesses exhibit greatest negative sentiment for digital wallets like PayPa

If you’re a B2C business:

  • British consumers prefer to pay by Direct Debit

  • Debit cards, often considered the dominant payment option for online subscriptions in the UK, are only preferred by about one-third of consumers

  • Preference for digital wallets like PayPal is amongst the lowest of key markets around the globe

See more data and insights into British business payment preferences and British consumer payment preferences.

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