Belgians increasingly comfortable making digital payments

Belgians increasingly comfortable making digital payments
Credit: Belga / Thierry Roge

People living in Belgium increasingly feel comfortable with paying by card or mobile, according to a study conducted by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) on behalf of Febelfin and several electronic payment companies.

From 1 July, all retailers in Belgium will be forced by law to offer their customers at least one electronic payment method, meaning electronic payments will become possible in all shops. The recent survey by VUB has confirmed that there is a demand for this among Belgian residents, as more people are abandoning coins and banknotes in favour of their debit card or smartphone.

In 2022, three-quarters of Belgians (74%) paid at least once with a contactless card in a physical store, compared to 47% before the Covid-19 crisis (before March 2020).

Decline of cash

Despite a slight rebound in the use of cash after the end of the health restrictions, the use of cash for payments, in general, has been decreasing over the years. Contactless card payments, meanwhile, have become increasingly popular.

Before the pandemic, 72% of Belgians admitted to having paid for their purchases in cash during any given week, compared to 59% currently, according to the "digital payments barometer".

Today, more than eight in ten respondents prefer digital payments (84%). The amount of cash they have in their pocket is also decreasing, from €61 on average before the pandemic to around €55 today. Meanwhile, 6% of respondents say they never have cash on them.

Almost three-quarters of Belgians (74%) have already paid at least once with a contactless card in a physical shop, compared to only 47% before the pandemic.

"Contrary to popular belief, it is not young people who use them most. The age groups 35-44 and 55-64 are the most enthusiastic about contactless payments: 81% of them have already paid at least once," a Febelfin statement read.

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Payment by QR code is also gaining ground (42% say they are comfortable, compared to 34% in 2021), while four out of ten Belgians made a mobile payment in a physical shop, compared to three out of ten before the pandemic.

"Whether the trend will continue in the future remains to be seen, but it seems that contactless card payments have a bright future ahead of them: 71% of people who do not yet pay contactless are considering doing so in the future," the statement concluded.

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