- 16.02.2023 - 08:50 

Most payments in Switzerland are again made by cash

The downward trend in cash usage has stopped. Around one in three payments in Switzerland is made in cash. However, most of the money is spent with credit cards according to the latest Swiss Payment Monitor from the University of St.Gallen and ZHAW.
The downward trend in cash usage has stopped. Around one in three payments in Switzerland is made in cash. However, most of the money is spent with credit cards according to the latest Swiss Payment Monitor from the University of St. Gallen and ZHAW.

Cash continues to play an important role in the payment behaviour of the Swiss population even after the Corona pandemic. 29 percent of daily payments are made in cash – more than with a debit card (27 percent) or credit card (18 percent). A further 18 percent of payments are made using a mobile device such as a cell phone, tablet or smartwatch. This includes payments directly via a bank account, for example with TWINT, but also payments with a credit or debit card stored in an app, such as with Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. These are the results of the sixth Swiss Payment Monitor conducted by the Center for Financial Services Innovation at the University of St.Gallen and the ZHAW School of Management and Law. Around 1450 people representative of the Swiss population were surveyed for the study at the end of 2022. "Due to the lifting of all Corona measures, shopping behaviour is again similar to what it was before the pandemic, and so is payment behaviour to a large extent," explains Tobias Trütsch, payment economist at the University of St.Gallen.

Credit cards dominate in terms of sales 

Most money in Switzerland is spent with credit cards: 27 percent of sales are generated with this means of payment. If mobile credit card payments are included, they account for as much as 34 percent. This has increased significantly in terms of number and revenue in 2022. Although payments with TWINT, which are mostly processed directly via a bank account, still account for around half of mobile payments, the share of mobile payments via Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Samsung Pay has increased significantly and payments via Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Pay have gained in relative terms. 28 percent of sales are settled via debit card, while cash follows in third place in terms of the amount of sales with a 17 percent share. "Cash is mainly used for small amounts of up to 20 francs, which is why it is frequently used but plays a less important role in terms of turnover," says Tobias Trütsch.

Larger amounts of cash at home

Cash use differs strongly according to demographic characteristics. People with a lower level of education and lower income are more likely to use cash as a means of payment. While those under 30 use cash for 28 percent of payments, this proportion drops to 24 percent for those aged 30 to 44, then rises with age to 38 percent for those over 60. Around one in six people in Switzerland now do not use cash at all. This behavioural pattern is more widespread with increasing age, higher income and in German-speaking Switzerland. The average amount of cash a person carries in their wallet or keeps at home has increased noticeably in the current survey for the first time in three years. "One possible explanation for this behaviour lies in the energy crisis feared for this winter, for which part of the population may have wanted to arm itself with higher cash reserves," suspects ZHAW payments expert Marcel Stadelmann.

Neobanks increasingly used as main banking connection

More than every third person surveyed has already used new online solutions from a neobank at least once. Neobanks provide their products only digitally and typically via smartphone. "The typical neobank user is male, younger than 45 years old, well-educated and has a household income of more than 9000 francs," says Marcel Stadelmann. In addition, the percentage of neobank users in French-speaking Switzerland is higher than in the rest of Switzerland, at 43 percent. Revolut is used most frequently (15 percent), followed by the Swiss providers Neon (14 percent) and Credit Suisse CSX (11 percent). One and a half years after its launch, Yuh already has a market share of 10 percent. 36 percent of neobank users utilize their service as ta primary means of payment or as their main banking connection, which is 7 percentage points more than six months ago.

Swiss Payment Monitor

The Swiss Payment Research Center (SPRC) at the ZHAW School of Management and Law and the Swiss Payment Behaviour Lab at the University of St.Gallen have been working independently on payment-related issues for years. Together, they have been conducting the Swiss Payment Monitor annually since 2018 and semi-annually since 2021. When it was first published, this was the first Swiss payment study to combine a consumer perspective and a macroeconomic view. By combining an online survey with a diary survey and linking it to public data from the Swiss National Bank (SNB), the daily use of payment methods can be mapped realistically. A total of 1459 people between the ages of 18 and 87 from all three parts of the country were representatively surveyed in 2022 from the end of October to mid-November. The study is financed by the two research institutions, the industry association of all major Swiss issuers of credit cards of the international card organizations (Swiss Payment Association) and the industry partners Nets and Worldline.

Image: Adobe Stock / studio v-zwoelf