BearingPoint conducted a survey regarding payment behavior in seven European countries in 2023: Finland, Germany, Austria, France, Ireland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. In this article, we are deep diving into the survey results from Finland. The survey consisted of two parts: payment behavior in general and consumers' attitudes towards the digital euro.

About the survey

The data is based on an online survey of 8,114 people in Germany (2,040), Finland (1,004), France (1,056), Ireland (1,002), the Netherlands (1,006), Austria (1,005) and Switzerland (1,001) conducted between September 11-22, 2023. The results were weighted and are representative of the respective populations aged 18 and over. The survey was designed by BearingPoint and conducted by the market research institute YouGov in the seven countries mentioned. The results were analyzed by the BearingPoint payments experts.

Finns are active users of digital payment methods compared to other surveyed countries

Even if cash is the primary form of payment across the surveyed countries, Finland is an exception. In Austria 79% and Germany 71% use cash, whereas in Finland the cash usage is significantly lower – 43%. Interestingly, in a cross-country comparison the 55+ age group are the most frequent cash users. Meanwhile, in Finland 35-44-year-olds use cash most frequently compared to the other age groups.

Cash in Finland is seen as familiar (51%), whereas cards are seen as fast (74%) and convenient (69%). Those seem to be features that are highly valued in the daily payment behavior, as the contactless debit card is the most frequently used payment mean in Finland across all age groups at 71%. This is remarkably higher than in some of the participating countries: In Germany the usage is 44% and in Switzerland 50%.

Mobile payments to become even more popular than before

Finland is also a frontrunner considering the use of mobile payments. The youngest age group is using mobile payments such as Apple Pay or Google Pay today slightly more than physical contactless debit cards. As Finnish consumers are active users of digital payment methods, they have also experienced least issues when using them. On average, roughly 50% has faced concerns, whereas in Finland below 40% of respondents had this experience.

According to the survey mobile payments will become even more popular in Finland, as 33% of the participants reportedly will start using more mobile payments in the following 2 years. Even though card payments have been the norm in Finland for several years, 27% would use even more cards and roughly 15% would be likely to abandon cash.

Local digital payment methods most popular for payments between individuals

Over 70% of Finns prefer to use digital payment methods in Person-to-Person (P2P) transactions. The most popular application is MobilePay (50%), but also Siirto (14%) and Pivo (7%) are used. Traditional credit transfers (52%) are also widely used for such transactions, especially for the age group 55+ years. In nearly all the participating countries, country specific digital payment methods are the most popular way for payments between individuals. The exception to this is top cash using countries Germany and Austria where P2P transactions also are mostly paid by cash and France, where credit transfer is the most popular way. In Finland cash is used by roughly 35%, meaning Finland has the lowest cash usage rate also for P2P transactions.

The digital euro – a central bank digital currency potentially issued by the European Central Bank in the near future

According to the survey, Finnish consumers are not yet familiar with the digital euro as 37% have not heard of it before. As Finns are on average already very familiar with digital payments, the impact of the digital euro on their everyday life compared to countries using more cash is smaller and there have not been as intense discussions about the topic as in for example Austria. This may be a key reason for the somewhat lower knowledge.

According to the survey roughly 45% of Finns are currently unable to say how often they would use the digital euro, and roughly 20% would never use the digital euro. Comparing share of active users of digital euro among the surveyed countries, Finland ranks the lowest score: Roughly 35 % of Finns say they would use digital euro frequently, ranging from daily use to less than 2-3 times per month. For those who could think they would use the digital euro, the most likely usage of the digital euro would be 2-3 times per week (11%). In Finland around 30% think that digital euro will either replace or be used more often than cash, whereas in countries with high cash usage the expectation is that the digital euro will be used less frequently than cash.    

Most people would trust their personal bank to handle the transaction data of the digital euro (58%). Notably, in Finland the trust towards one’s personal bank is much higher than in the rest of the participating countries, showing both trust and loyalty as well as reliability towards the bank as an institution. 

Payments – a field that is constantly evolving

New innovations and an expanding selection of payment services are to be expected in the near future, forcing both businesses and regulators to keep up with the race.

As can be stated from the survey Finnish consumers are already quite familiar with digital payment methods. It is still expected that new possible innovations - such as the digital euro – will further shape the landscape and change the payment behavior of Finns in the time to come.

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