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5 Game-Changing European Payment Trends in 2020

Our selection of the top five major trends shaping payments in Europe and how your business can benefit from them.

Euro - Photo by Mauro Sbicego on Unsplash

Europe is a world leader in pioneering financial trends. Sweden, for example, is expected to become the world's first cashless society by 2023. And only recently, Amsterdam gained publicity by announcing its plans to move towards a "Doughnut" economy.

This innovative tendency also extends to payments. In the Eurozone and beyond, a whole host of companies are experimenting with previously-untried methods. New approaches include everything from sending receipts by text message to accepting more unusual forms of remuneration like cryptocurrency.

In this post, we're going to look at five of the top payment trends currently shaping the Eurozone and its close neighbouring countries.

1. SMS invoices

It's becoming increasingly common for companies to send estimates, invoices and receipts via SMS. Not only are text messages much more convenient and environmentally friendly than paper alternatives, but they also have a higher open and read rate, making smaller businesses' invoice and payment flow more efficient.

When a customer quickly can access their invoice on their phone, they're less likely to miss a payment and more likely to pay on time. In recent years several invoice software providers in the European market have started to offer automatic mobile invoice processing. One of the growing trends have been the ability to SMS invoices to a client's phone with an automatic set up. Meaning businesses don't have to bother with manually sending out invoices every time a payment is due.

Although only 11% of the European consumers prefer to pay by invoices, the amount of businesses in the euro zone that rely on invoice payments is still increasing.

2. Digital Wallets

The rise of digital wallets in Europe has been described as "meteoric". Digital wallets, which allow users to save their payment details on a secure app, can handle a variety of payment types, both online and in-store. Mobile digital wallets can also be used in exactly the same way as a debit card for wireless transactions.

And while Europeans are likely to continue using plastic debit and credit cards - currently the number one payment method - for at least the foreseeable future, digital wallets are definitely becoming more ubiquitous. Ecommerce transactions are increasingly being completed with digital wallets, even in countries that have shown some resistance to new payment technologies, like Germany and the Czech Republic. Diminishing concerns around fraud and security have also catalysed this trend.

3. Discounting Tools and Events

One interesting trend in European markets is the growing prevalence of discounting tools and opportunities. Consumers have been fast to embrace buying holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday that have origins in the United States. And both online and brick-and-mortar businesses are taking advantage of this trend by offering price-cuts and promotions.

Discounting tools, like the coupon app Honey, and price comparison activities are also increasingly becoming part of the customer journey in the run-up to payment. In France, for example, 80% of customers check alternative prices before making a purchase. In Switzerland, it's very common for customers to use their smartphones to research products before buying an item in-store.

4. Paperless Document Workflows

While paperless offices haven't seen the kind of growth that many people expected, adoption among companies is continuing to rise. And it's been predicted that coronavirus will act as a prompt for many lagging European businesses to finally take the plunge and digitize their document workflows.

Paperless invoicing, however, is one area that has seen a significant and consistent rise in popularity. Consequently, a large number of invoicing and document management apps have entered the market. More businesses are opting to send electronic contracts, receipts, proposals, invoices, and so on, to their clients, with payment and approval options embedded into the documents.

And it's not difficult to see why this trend towards paperless payment-related documents is occurring. Companies that opt for digital workflows tend to see increases in payment times, approval rates, and customer satisfaction. What's more, the inexpensive nature of popular document management tools means they almost always drive a positive return-on-investment and are available to smaller companies that aren't tech-savvy.

5. Cross-Border Ecommerce

Europe's fast-growing ecommerce market has proven to be a major driver of new payment methods. Even though brick-and-mortar retail markets have shown relatively little growth, the ecommerce space is booming. Demand has actually increased in certain sectors because of coronavirus. And countries with low internet penetration like Italy are starting to emerge as key players.

Many innovative purchase methods, including one-click purchases, vouchers and discounts, e-wallets, smartphone payments, and more, have arisen from the booming ecommerce industry.

One particularly notable trend is the growth of cross-border ecommerce. A number of companies, like Paypal, Transferwise, and Transfergo, have enabled consumers in Europe to make purchases in foreign currencies. And a proliferation of inexpensive ecommerce tools with built-in language and payment features has also made it possible for smaller retailers to cater to international audiences.

An increased global focus on privacy and data protection, along with new directives such as the European-wide Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2), have helped to allay consumer fears about shopping with brands that they might not immediately recognize and trust, both within the Eurozone and beyond.

Conclusion

Businesses that stay abreast of payment trends in Europe and the broader world have a significant competitive advantage.

Offering innovative payment methods to your customers increases your market reach while simultaneously opening up new opportunities. Enabling faster, more convenient, more rewarding payment processing and follow-up can directly impact sales, customer satisfaction, and loyalty.

What's more, a plethora of inexpensive, easy-to-use apps and tools are allowing businesses of all shapes and sizes, from freelancers to large enterprises, to take advantage of these new technologies. A lack of resources or technical expertise needn't be an insurmountable obstacle.

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