EHI Study - Payment Systems In Retail 2021

2 min read
August 23, 2021 at 1:23 PM

Virus Pushes Card Payment

Never before has reduction in cash transactions been greater than in the Corona year 2020. In the history of research, the change in the payment mix in stationary retail is one of the strongest. The EHI Retail Institute produces an annual study on the payment systems in German retail: since 1994, non-cash means of payment have increased by 1% to 1.5% annually. In 2020 alone, cash payments declined by 5.6% to 40.9% of retail sales. Physical or mobile card payments via smartphone, on the other hand, increased by 5.8% to 56.3%. This corresponds to a value of 20 billion euros.

Girocard As The Winner Of The Pandemic

With growth of EUR 24.8 billion, the girocard system of the German banking industry is the clear favorite among card-based payment systems. While the SEPA direct debit has lost percentage points, the use of credit cards is also on the rise.

In general, payment transactions in stationary retail have fallen from 20 billion to 18.25 billion. Although customers pay considerably more per purchase, they shop much less frequently.

"Where possible, substantial sales have been transferred from bricks-and-mortar stores to e-commerce."

Horst Rüter, EHI Retail Institute

Compared with the previous year, 17% fewer cash transactions were completed. This represents a loss of 2.5 billion euros. The winner of the pandemic is the Girocard. According to the EHI Retail Institute, the absolute growth in non-cash payment transactions would have been much more pronounced had the frequency of purchases in stores not declined so significantly.

Cashless In Vogue

Where previously there was advertising against card payments, now there is even explicit attention drawn to them - with displays, stickers or promotions. During the pandemic, retailers such as bakeries made a 180-degree turnaround with regard to cashless payment methods. The favorite during the crisis: contactless payment. More than 60% of Girocard transactions are now contactless. This dynamic development was further boosted by the increase in the girocard contactless limit without PIN from EUR 25 to EUR 50 in the middle of the year. Between 5% and 10% of contactless payments are already being made using smartphones. The tendency to use mobile payment methods is increasing.


The importance of online business continues to grow. In order to be able to better grasp the influence, EHI is conducting an overall evaluation for stationary and online retail for the first time in 2021.

In the eCommerce segment, Paypal is considered one of the strongest payment methods. Nine out of ten retail companies expect that Paypal will also find its way into stationary retail due to the high level of customer satisfaction. It is estimated that Paypal is predestined to achieve a market share of more than 5%. The EHI survey revealed that the girocard is also seen as having a similar omnichannel role.


The entire retail industry is undergoing a transformation that has been accelerated by the pandemic. The changes in payment methods confirm a merging of online and offline. The trend is moving away from cash toward cash and contactless payment methods.

A key technology for combining cash & contactless payment methods and a smooth shopping experience in stationary retail is the mobile self-checkout. Not only are long waiting times at the checkout line minimized by online payment methods, but the products are also scanned by the customers themselves. Stationary retail becomes even more attractive thanks to this innovative technology. In this way, the decline in transactions in stationary retail can be counteracted. Scan & Go also makes bulk purchases much more convenient. Products do not have to be put in and taken out of the shopping cart several times.

Paypal as one of the strongest payment methods has long been offered to merchants as a payment method in the Snabble app.


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