Mobile payments in the Benelux - Statistics & Facts
Mobile payment apps are pieces of software developed for the ease of making payments on smartphones and tablet devices. This includes mobile wallets, such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, as well as specifically designed apps from banks or retail companies. The user clicks directly on the app to pay, as opposed to online banking or logging on with a web browser to a web store. Conducting so-called contactless payments is another way of doing mobile payments, either with a smartphone app or with a debit or credit card. On a global level, the mobile wallet competition has intensified due to banks entering the market alongside third-party wallets and retailer payment apps. This also showed in the Benelux region. In 2017, for example, the frequency of the use of cash money in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands was lower than the European average. 20 percent of Belgian respondents indicated the last time they used cash money was last week, compared to 13 percent among European consumers. In addition, the number of available mobile payment apps in the Benelux countries steadily increased due to domestic banks being involved in their development.
In Belgium, mobile payments by the app Bancontact have proven to be popular. Bancontact is a domestic payment scheme designed to increase the ease of retail payments. In the first quarter of 2017, 47 percent of respondents indicated it was their preferred payment method for online shopping. Big retail companies such as Colruyt and Delhaize already announced their support of the Bancontact-app, although smaller retail companies were not yet convinced by it. In addition to the app, Bancontact has also been integrated in the mobile banking apps of several large banks, such as Belfius and BNP Paribas. The total number of mobile banking subscriptions in Belgium reached 4.5 million users in 2016. Other mobile payment services in the country include Android Pay, which was launched in March 2017, and Payconiq, an app which uses QR codes and can be connected to retailer bank accounts.
Luxembourg, like Belgium, also has a popular domestic payment scheme. Digicash is a payment system from Luxembourg finance start-up Digicash Payments, a company which originated from a government-sponsored program in the Grand Duchy, and was indicated to be the third-most preferred method of payment. It is estimated that 25 percent of the Luxembourg population uses its mobile app for payments with banks, shops and energy providers. Another recent service which entered the Luxembourg market is Swedish mobile payment platform Seqr, which was introduced in July 2016.
In the Netherlands, banking apps from major banks such as Rabobank, ING and ABN Amro were updated in 2013 to enable checkouts using iDEAL, a payment method with a current market share of over 50 percent. A payment scheme such as Paypal is known in the Netherlands, but due to iDEAL's popularity not as popular a provider among Millennials than in other European countries. Big Fintech-services like Android Pay, Apple Pay and Pay from Samsung are not yet released in the Netherlands. Dutch banks therefore focus on iDEAL and continue their support in developing or introducing new payment methods on their own. In the summer of 2017, ABN Amro, ING, Rabobank and De Volksbank launched the Belgian payment service of Payconiq in the Netherlands. Because of these efforts, the total turnover of remote payments with a smartphone or tablet reached 21 billion euros in the second quarter of 2017.
Despite this increase in mobile payments in the Benelux region, consumers from Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands are not yet willing to completely forego cash money. Approximately 33 percent of Belgian respondents indicated in 2017 they would go completely cashless if given the choice, a percentage which is close to but below the European average. Respondents from Luxembourg and the Netherlands were even less willing than that. On the other hand, Benelux consumers do expect that they will use a mobile payment app in the near future, indicating a certain usefulness and usability of new technologies alongside cash money in this region.
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