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October 4, 2022

PwC Survey: European consumers prefer cashless payments

But are reluctant to provide personal data that would stimulate the development of online services

Cash is losing ground in Europe, given that 36% of respondents to the Payments and Open Banking survey, conducted by Strategy&, part of the PwC network, say they use cash in 2020, 7 percentage points less than two years ago.

However, consumers’ reorientation towards cashless payments is not reflected in an increase in their willingness to share personal data with third parties – a condition for the development of “open banking”. Thus, only 20% of respondents are willing to provide financial data.

“With the opening of the European payment services market two years ago, known as open banking, the adoption of innovation, technology and competition in this industry have been encouraged for faster development. But customers’ reluctance to share personal data remains a problem currently facing all players, both traditional, banks, and new, FinTech. Even if traditional banks still have a reliable advantage over competitors, erosion becomes visible. In this context, all market players must offer new benefits and incentives to build consumer confidence”, says Dinu Bumbăcea, Partner, Advisory Leader, PwC Romania.

Banks remain at the top of trust

According to the survey, European respondents say they trust more traditional banks and card providers for the exchange of personal information (17%). Compared to 2018, both banks and card providers lost 4 percentage points of confidence.

Among other players, payment service providers are trusted by 9% of respondents and retailers by 8%, internet giants by 7%, while banks that operate exclusively online (neobanks) and FinTech would receive data only from to 3% of European consumers.

Benefits for data exchange

The most desired benefit for consumers to exchange personal data for services other than banking is the discounts on shopping, while the popularity of other benefits for using “free banking” products or for automatic filing of tax returns are more reduced.

Cards are increasing

Instead of cash, consumers use cards, e-wallets or applications. The use of debit cards is increasing, in 2020, to 31% compared to 27% in 2018, and that of applications and e-wallets to 14% from 11%.

The reasons why Europeans use cash over other payment methods are as follows: 34% say they use it if no other payment is accepted, 26% for convenience, 13% because they have security concerns, and 20% have more control of expenses / budget. The preference for cash varies greatly and has decreased at a different rate, for example in Switzerland it has fallen in the last two years from 60% to 45% and in Italy from 52% to 38%.

COVID-19 a catalyst for non-cash payments

The COVID-19 crisis has influenced the behavior of European consumers when shopping in stores. Thus, 44% use physical cards more often and 9% smartphones (for example Apple Pay). Respondents believe that these payment behaviors are long-lasting and only one in five expects to return to previous habits.


The revised EU Payment Services Directive (PSD2) opened the European online payment market for new payment providers in 2018 by providing access to infrastructure and banking data to third parties, such as technology companies, retailers, telecom operators. They have the possibility to initiate payments on behalf of customers if they have the consent for the processing and use of data, according to GDPR.

About the survey

The survey was conducted online on a sample of 3,500 respondents from 12 countries (UK, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Sweden, Poland, Ireland, Turkey) between August and September 2020.

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