E-commerce payment systems in Europe

  • Last update: 23.02.2024
  • Published: 17.03.2023
  • Read in: 7 min

Nowadays, an online payment system is a vital e-commerce component. Beyond simply transferring money to the online shop and seller’s account, each system offers diverse payment options, transaction processing speed, and transaction security. However, it’s important to note that popular electronic payment systems like PayU, Dotpay, or Przelewy24 on the Polish e-commerce market might be unfamiliar in other countries.

As a result, we will now explore the electronic payment systems popular in Europe.

e-commerce payment systems in europe

In the following article you will find out:

  • What are the differences between payment methods and payment systems?
  • What are the most frequently used payment methods in Poland?
  • Which e-commerce payment systems are the most popular across Europe?
  • What payment systems are recognised and widely used in specific European countries?
  • What factors should be taken into consideration when deciding on a payment system for your online store?

Online payment methods

Before delving into the topic of e-commerce payment systems in Europe, let’s clarify the distinction between payment methods and the aforementioned systems.

 

A payment method refers to the various means by which customers make payments for their online purchases. These methods can include:

  • online transfers
  • payment by credit or debit card
  • BLIK payments
  • cash on delivery
  • payment in cash

On the contrary, payment systems are technologies or platforms that facilitate transactions using specific payment methods.

Payment methods can be categorised into two groups: online and mobile.

Mobile payments encompass transactions made via mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, including mobile internet banking apps, e-wallets within mobile apps, or payments using QR codes.

On the other hand, online payments encompass various methods such as online transfers, cryptocurrency payments, payment cards, and transactions conducted through electronic wallets.

E-commerce payment methods in Poland

Speaking of payment methods, it’s worth mentioning the insights from reports on online shopping trends in Poland.

According to the E-commerce in Poland 2022 Report, which was published in September of the previous year, respondents were asked about the types of payment methods they had used while making online purchases. An impressive 70% of the participants indicated using quick transfers, including services like PayU, Przelewy24, Dotpay, and Tpay. Following closely, mobile payments secured the second spot with 58% of respondents adopting this method. In the third position, 43% of respondents mentioned using card payments during the order placement process.

When comparing the responses to a similar question – “When shopping online using a computer/laptop, which financial products did you use to make payments in the last six months?” – in 2019 the responses were a bit different

Quick transfers remained in the lead with a 35% score. However, traditional bank transfers occupied the second spot with 26% of respondents selecting this method. Interestingly, cash-on-delivery payments at brick and mortar shops also obtained the same score, securing the third position.

Payment systems in Europe

Moving on to payment systems, in Europe, there are several prominent and widely used online payment systems that are well-known throughout the continent and employed in numerous countries.

Payment system - PayPal

PayPal stands as one of the most popular e-commerce payment systems, not only in Europe but also on a global scale. It accommodates a wide range of payment methods, including payment cards and electronic wallets.

The exceptional benefits of using PayPal include its advanced fraud protection measures, secure data encryption, instantaneous transfers, and user-friendly interface. Creating a PayPal account is a breeze and can be accomplished within minutes using just an email address.

However, it’s important to be aware of some downsides associated with PayPal. In certain situations, if financial controllers detect suspicious transactions, they have the authority to freeze your account temporarily. Moreover, PayPal charges a 3% currency conversion cost on each transaction, which might be relatively higher compared to other payment systems.

Payment systems - Mastercard and Visa

Mastercard and Visa serve as global payment networks, facilitating credit card and debit card transactions worldwide. These networks play a crucial role in ensuring data security and settlement protection during these transactions.

Despite their differences, both Mastercard and Visa share numerous common features, offering benefits such as: 

  • global recognition and appreciation,
  • transaction security,
  • loyalty programmes,
  • travel benefits.

However, it’s essential to be mindful of the potential downsides associated with both networks, which may include annual fees, transaction fees, or interest rates on outstanding balances.

Payment system - Stripe

Stripe is a US-based e-commerce payment system, offering payment options such as credit cards, bank transfers, and e-wallets. In Poland, this system was introduced on September 12, 2019.

One significant advantage of Stripe is its ease of integration into your online store. Additionally, it provides advanced transaction analysis tools and supports currency conversion among 140 different currencies.

However, a potential drawback of using Stripe is the lengthy verification process before the initial withdrawal, which could take approximately 1.5-2 weeks. Subsequent withdrawals may also involve waiting periods of around 2-3 days.

Payment system - Klarna

Klarna, a well-known Swedish e-commerce payment system, offers various payment options, including instalment payments, BLIK payments, deferred payments for up to 30 days, as well as payment via credit card and bank transfer.

Beyond its wide range of payment methods, Klarna boasts user-friendly features, top-notch security measures, and seamless integrations with platforms like WooCommerce, Magento, and Shopify.

However, Klarna does have some drawbacks, such as its unavailability in numerous countries and the risk of accruing debt if the deferred payment option is used irresponsibly.

Payment system - Adyen

Adyen, a Netherlands-based system, provides an end-to-end solution for online payments, supporting payment cards, online transfers, e-wallets, and mobile payments. Remarkably, Adyen accommodates around 250 payment methods from worldwide sources and is accessible in 37 different currencies.

In addition to its wide-ranging capabilities, Adyen offers easy integrations and the option to customise the payment service with your own branding.

Nonetheless, the system has some drawbacks, such as possible customer service issues and the risk of having your account frozen if any suspicious transactions are detected.

Payment system - Amazon Pay

Amazon Pay serves as a payment system, or rather a platform, within the Amazon ecosystem. It grants users the convenience of utilising their Amazon customer account funds for online transactions, ensuring secure and hassle-free payment experiences when integrated into online shops.

Nevertheless, Amazon Pay does come with certain drawbacks, such as the inability to support personal payments and the absence of volume discounts and custom packages.

Mobile payment systems - Google Pay and Apple Pay

Google Pay and Apple Pay, as the names suggest, are payment services operated by tech giants Google and Apple. These convenient platforms allow users to link their payment cards to mobile apps, facilitating seamless online payments.

However, a potential limitation lies in the fact that these services require an internet connection. Without internet access, users may find themselves unable to make payments using Google Pay and Apple Pay.

Payment systems in selected European countries - The Czech Republic

A significant portion of the Czech population, around 30%, still prefers cash-on-delivery payments. However, for those who opt for online payments, several systems are commonly used:

  • Platební brána – This Czech payment gateway is widely recognized and allows the use of payment cards, bank transfers, and mobile payments.
  • GoPay – Similar to Platební brána, GoPay also serves as a payment gateway, offering options for payment via cards, transfers, mobile payments, and e-wallets.
  • TrustPay – This system is renowned not only in the Czech Republic but also globally. Its origin, created by Slovaks, has contributed to its popularity, particularly in the neighbouring country.

Germany

In Germany, it is common for citizens to use PayPal, Klarna, or Amazon Pay in their day-to-day transactions. Nevertheless, in addition to these well-known platforms, there are also two payment systems that deserve attention:

  • Sofortüberweisung, originally created in Germany in 2005, has also gained popularity in Austria. It was acquired by Klarna in 2014 and is now accessible in 13 countries, including Poland.
  • On the other hand, Giropay, established in 2005 as an interbank online payment method, has also become a significant player. It accounts for over 15% of online payments in Germany.

France

In France, both PayPal and Amazon Pay enjoy widespread popularity, alongside the following:

  • Carte Bancaire –  the card payment system in France and remains the most commonly used payment method in the country along the Seine River.
  • Paylib – established in 2013 by three French banks, specialises in facilitating mobile payments, providing a seamless mobile payment solution.
  • PayPlug – acts as a versatile platform enabling payments via card, bank transfer, and mobile methods. Additionally, it offers convenient instalment payment services.

Spain

Spanish consumers frequently rely on PayPal, Stripe, or Amazon Pay for their day-to-day transactions. However, besides these systems, they also frequently use Bizum, a Spanish payment system developed in collaboration with prominent banks.

Similar to BLIK payments, Bizum enables money transfers using a phone number and facilitates online payments as well.

Italy

PayPay, Stripe, and Amazon Pay are widely used in Italy. However, apart from these systems, two others stand out:

  • CartaSi – founded in 1985, operates as a credit and debit card payment system in Italy. Apart from this, CartaSi provides a mobile app and cloud services to its users.
  • Satispay – an Italian mobile payment system established in 2013, allows users to conduct money transfers through their phone numbers and facilitates both online and in-person payments. Furthermore, Satispay is not limited to Italy and can also be found in Germany and Luxembourg.

How can I determine the most suitable payment system for my online store?

Before setting up your own online store or adapting it for a foreign market, it is essential to conduct an analysis of the target audience’s trends and preferences. Additionally, it is crucial to verify the popularity of online payment systems in the country where you intend to sell. However, apart from these considerations, there are several other factors to take into account:

Safety certificates

The top priority when choosing a payment system is to ensure it adheres to the highest security standards. Nobody wants their data to fall into the wrong hands.

Activation fee

This is the cost associated with integrating the system into your online store. In Poland, the fees are typically affordable, ranging around PLN 10.

Commission

Payment systems charge a commission on each transaction they process, which can reduce the return on sales.

Costs associated with withdrawing funds

Incurring expenses may arise when withdrawing funds from an intermediary account. As a result, creating yet another factor that could decrease the overall sales profit.

Supported payment cards

When making online purchases, a considerable number of individuals frequently opt to pay with cards, making it advantageous for a system to accommodate a wide variety of card types. MasterCard and Visa are merely the tip of the iceberg.

Integration

Additionally, it is worth checking the level of simplicity or difficulty associated with integrating the system into the website of the online shop.

E-commerce payment systems in Europe - summary

When setting up the payment system for your online shop, it’s essential to ensure that it not only offers fast transactions but also prioritises the security of sensitive data. Since customers will be providing their credit card numbers and other personal information, this becomes a critical element when establishing a trustworthy e-commerce shop.

For those involved in e-commerce in Poland and looking to expand into new markets, we are here to assist you. Expanding into new markets often presents challenges related to VAT registration and settlement. If you require support in this area, please feel free to schedule a free consultation.

And if you want to learn more, check out our 20 e-commerce tools that support your business development or read about the biggest marketplace platforms in Europe.

Antoni Merkun Copywriter i marketer. Z Taxology współpracuje od marca 2023. Zainteresowany SEO oraz content marketingiem.