Payment behaviour in Switzerland

Payment behaviour Payment behaviour in Switzerland

Published on 30.09.2021 by Dr. Marcel Stadelmann, Research Assistant and Project Manager, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW)

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have further accelerated the transformation of payment behaviour in the Swiss population. Digital payment methods are becoming increasingly important and for the first time cash is no longer the most widely used payment method.

The range of payment methods offered and accepted in Switzerland is becoming increasingly diverse. For example, according to regular surveys carried out by the ZHAW and the University of St. Gallen as part of the Swiss Payment Monitor (, a person living in Switzerland today has an average of 2.0 debit cards and 1.5 credit cards, plus 1.1 payment apps on their mobile phone.

The Swiss Payment Monitor, which was launched in 2018, shows that the use of digital payment methods is constantly increasing. The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic at the beginning of 2020 has massively accelerated this trend. The survey of payment behaviour in Switzerland in May 2021 showed for the first time that cash was no longer the most widely used payment method (see Fig. 1). Instead, the debit card was found to be the most popular payment method in Switzerland. As well as being the most frequently used, it is also the payment method with which consumers spend the most money (see Fig. 1 and Fig. 2). Cash is still the second most frequently used payment method, while credit cards are in third place (see Fig. 1). The ranking of these two payment methods is reversed when it comes to revenue (see Fig. 2).

Graphic share of total market turnover
Figure 1: Share of payment methods by revenue based on sales in Switzerland according to diary surveys
Graphic transaction share total market
Figure 2: Share of payment methods by number of transactions based on sales in Switzerland according to diary surveys

The ability to make contactless payments quickly and easily in point-of-sale businesses has played a significant role in the growth of credit and debit card payments. This can even be done without entering a PIN code for amounts of up to CHF 80, while this limit was CHF 40 before the pandemic. Over 70 percent of card payments are now contactless. Whereas cards were favoured in the past for larger amounts, today they are increasingly used for smaller amounts – by contactless payment.

Looking solely at distance selling (especially e-commerce), we see no clear impact of the pandemic on the choice of payment method. Instead, we observe a continuation in the existing trend towards increased payment processing using mobile devices such as smartphones. Today, over 40 percent of distance purchase payments are made on or with a mobile device.

The share of purchases made using payment by invoice in distance selling has remained relatively constant since 2018. Roughly every fourth order uses payment by invoice and these transactions make up almost half of all revenue, as larger amounts in particular are often paid for by invoice. The fact that consumers prefer to pay larger amounts only once goods have been delivered in a satisfactory condition demonstrates a certain distrust of retailers and digital payment methods. On the other hand, invoice payment is often chosen for the sake of convenience. At the time of purchase, just one click is required instead of, for example, having to find your credit card in your wallet and enter the 16-digit credit card number. Choosing payment by invoice puts off the effort of making the payment there and then.


Due to the current situation, Connecta Bern will again be held as a digital event in 2021. Connecta is renowned for shining a light on the diverse nature of digitization and this year will be no different with content presented across the three formats of Connecta Blog, Connecta TV and Connecta Talk. Find out more here:


Dr. Marcel Stadelmann, Research Assistant and Project Manager, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW)

Marcel Stadelmann is a research assistant at the Institute for Marketing Management at the ZHAW School of Management and Law. In addition to his teaching and training activities, he is a project manager for research and consulting projects with a focus on consumer behaviour. His biggest project is the Swiss Payment Monitor in cooperation with the University of St.Gallen.

Portrait Marcel Stadelmann

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