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Digital Buyers in the Nordic Countries Differ on Preferred Payment Methods

Payment cards are favored in Denmark; invoice is popular in Sweden

August 15, 2014

When it comes to paying for digital purchases, consumers in the Nordic countries have very different preferences. According to a January 2014 study by TNS Sifo for Nordic communications and logistics provider PostNord, an overwhelming majority (80%) of digital buyers in Denmark preferred to pay via credit or debit card, compared with 67% in Norway and 41% in Finland. Paying for web purchases by card was significantly less popular in Sweden, where the most-preferred payment method was against invoice (36%).

Preferred Payment Method According to Digital Buyers in Select Nordic Countries, Jan 2014 (% of respondents)

In Denmark, no other payment method came close to achieving as large a following as credit and debit cards. In fact, the second most popular payment method there was against invoice, preferred by only 8% of digital buyers. Services such as PayPal and Payson came in a close third at 6%, while direct payment via bank won just 3% of the vote.

Payment preferences were somewhat more evenly distributed in Sweden. While the most popular payment method there was against invoice (36%), debit or credit cards came in a close second, preferred by 32% of digital buyers. According to PostNord, the popularity of paying against invoice has fallen over the past few years as payment cards have gained ground, leading to a relatively even share of respondents who preferred these two methods in January.

Preferred Payment Method for Digital Purchases According to Digital Buyers in Select Nordic Countries, Q3 2013 (% of respondents)

However, Q3 2013 YouGov polling for DIBS Payment Services found that card payments had actually overtaken invoice as the preferred payment method for digital purchases in Sweden. In its survey, 29% of respondents from Sweden said they preferred to pay against invoice, compared with 38% who favored paying via credit or debit card. Online bank payments were also relatively popular, preferred by almost one-quarter (23%) of respondents in Sweden.

In Finland, online bank payments were the top payment method for web purchases, chosen by 40% of respondents there. Card payments came in second, preferred by 28%, while invoice was the most popular for 17%. According to DIBS, credit and debit cards were preferred by more men (32%) than women (23%), while invoice was more popular among women (24%) than men (11%).

Earlier data from WorldPay and First Annapolis supported DIBS’s findings. Almost half (48.1%) of ecommerce transactions in Finland in 2012 were paid for via bank transfer, while just over one-fifth (21.1%) were paid for by card. It should be noted that this figure also includes offline bank transfers, which helps to explain why the share is somewhat higher.

In Denmark, the overwhelming majority (84.2%) of ecommerce transactions in 2012 were made by credit card, while all other payment methods failed to garner more than a single-digit share of the total. In Norway, cards also took the majority share, though less so than in Denmark, at 60.0% of total ecommerce transactions. Cards took the lead in Sweden; however, the “other” category also had a 31.5% share—perhaps not surprisingly, as it included postpay methods and einvoices.

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