Digital payments continue to grow
Digital payments are very popular in Belgium. More and more people are switching from coins and banknotes to their payment card or smartphone. This is the conclusion of the latest Digital Payment Barometer, a survey conducted by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel on behalf of partners Febelfin, Bancontact Payconiq Company, Mastercard, Visa and Worldline. As from the 1st of July, Belgians will be able to take full advantage of their digital payment methods, as these will be accepted everywhere in Belgium. This date is also an opportunity for the partners to once again highlight Digital Payment Day, a day dedicated to digital payments.
- 84% of Belgians prefer digital payments.
- Contactless card payments have continued to grow in the wake of the pandemic and are now the preferred payment method in Belgium.
- In 2022, 74% of Belgians paid at least once with a contactless card in a physical store, compared to 47% before the coronavirus crisis (before March 2020).
- Belgians are increasingly comfortable with QR code payment.
- The number of Belgians who have used a mobile payment (QR code or wearable) at least once in a physical store has also increased: 4 out of 10 Belgians use it in 2022 compared to 3 out of 10 Belgians before the coronavirus crisis.
- The use of cash remains significantly lower compared to before the pandemic.
- 90% of Belgians make payments online and mostly use their debit card to do so. Credit cards are mainly used for larger amounts. As for mobile applications, 1 out of 5 Belgians uses them to make payments on the Internet.
- As from the 1st of July, consumers will be able to pay digitally in all stores and professions in Belgium.
- This date is an opportunity to once again celebrate Digital Payment Day, a day dedicated to digital payments.
Contactless card payments: a confirmed success
Since the coronavirus crisis, Belgians have adapted their payment behavior and switched more and more to digital payments. One payment method has been particularly popular: contactless card payments. This method has continued to grow and has become a well-established habit among Belgians. Indeed, almost three quarters of Belgians (74%) have already paid at least once with a contactless card in a physical store, compared to only 47% before the pandemic. Nearly three quarters of Belgians also indicate that they feel comfortable with contactless payments, compared to 43% before the coronavirus crisis.
While contactless payments have become a must for the majority of the population, the 35-44 year olds and 55-64 year olds particularly stand out: 81% of them have already paid contactless at least once.
Moreover, contactless payments have become the preferred payment method in Belgium: 40% of Belgians say that they would choose contactless payments over all other payment methods.
As for whether this trend will continue in the future, it seems that contactless payments have a bright future ahead of them: 71% of those who have not yet adopted this payment method are considering using it in the future.
4 out of 10 Belgians use mobile payment
The number of Belgians who have made a mobile payment in a physical store at least once has increased: 4 out of 10 Belgians use it in 2022, compared to 3 out of 10 Belgians before the coronavirus crisis. If we make a distinction between the mobile payment methods, 33% of Belgians indicate that they have already paid with a QR code in a store and 21% via a wearable.
If we focus on mobile payments with QR codes, Belgians are becoming increasingly comfortable with them: 42% in 2022, compared to 34% in 2021. Mobile payments with QR codes in physical stores are especially popular among the younger generation: 44% of 16-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds have already paid with QR codes, and this rises to 48% for 35-44 year olds.
As for mobile payments with a wearable, they are mainly boosted by 16-24 year olds: 46% of them say they have already made a purchase this way.
Among 16-24 year olds, mobile payments have even become the preferred payment method (27%).
Finally, the use of mobile payments is expected to increase in the future: Almost half of the Belgians (47%) who have not yet made a mobile payment, plan to do so in the future.
Cash is losing ground to digital payments
According to the survey results, 84% of Belgians prefer digital payments.
Despite a slight revival of cash after the end of the health restrictions, its use continues to decrease over the years. For instance, before the pandemic, 72% of Belgians reported using cash to pay for purchases in a given week, compared to 59% today.
One of the reasons for this is that fewer Belgians are keeping cash on them. On average, Belgians have 55 euros in their pocket, compared to 61 euros before the coronavirus crisis. Moreover, 6% of Belgians never carry cash and 40% have no more than 20 euros in their pockets.
Online purchases remain stable
The appetite of Belgians for online shopping is not decreasing. Ninety percent of Belgians say they have already made purchases on the Internet. In general, they usually use debit cards for this purpose, regardless of the amount of the purchase. For larger amounts, however, credit cards are more popular. Mobile applications are also a preferred means of making online payments: about 1 in 5 Belgians uses them to pay on the Internet.
1st of July : Digital Payment Day
As from the 1st of July 2022, consumers will have the possibility to pay digitally anywhere in Belgium. This follows the new law that generalises digital payments in all businesses and professions. This means consumers now have the choice: either pay with a digital payment method or pay with cash.
This new law echoes the change in consumer behaviour and offers merchants the opportunity to better meet their customers' expectations. After all, 1 out of 10 Belgians has already left a shop where they could not pay digitally.
On the 1st of July , we are once again celebrating Digital Payment Day. This day is an initiative of the partners Febelfin, Bancontact Payconiq Company, Mastercard, Visa and Worldline. It aims to encourage consumers to pay for their purchases digitally, by card, smartphone, watch or other wearable device. Digital payments also help merchants to avoid a shortage of 5 and 10 cent coins. The war in Ukraine is causing a shortage of raw materials, making it more difficult to issue these coins.
About the Digital Payment Barometer
The Digital Payment Barometer is a compilation of the results of a survey conducted by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel on payment trends in Belgium. This research was conducted within the Department of Applied Economics by Professor Dr. Leo Van Hove, Professor of Monetary Economics and Dr. Ellen Van Droogenbroeck, Postdoctoral Researcher and Visiting Professor. In March this year, a representative sample of 1,115 Belgians was surveyed online and by telephone regarding their payment habits and preferences. The results shed light on the payment behaviour of Belgians and trace the evolution of digital payments. The Barometer is one of the initiatives to promote these payments. It was launched in 2020 and the first results were published in 2021.
“Last year, it was only a guess, but with the new edition of our Barometer, it is now a certainty: the corona crisis has had a lasting impact on the payment behaviour of Belgians. As expected, cash has seen some revival with the reopening of cash-intensive sectors such as the hotel and restaurant industry. But the popularity of contactless payments, in particular, and to a lesser extent mobile payments, continues to grow. For example, 40% of the 55-64 year olds had already made contactless payments before the corona virus. Last year, that figure rose to 64%, and this year to 81%. The increase in mobile payments is of course mostly related to the younger age groups."
Leo Van Hove and Ellen Van Droogenbroeck
 By “digital payment”, we mean card payments and mobile payments.
 More information at the end of the press release.
 Smartphone, smartwatch…