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We have our fingers on the pulse of global retail


13 September 2016

Despite Germany’s tech savvy consumers showing confidence when purchasing online, security is still one of the main concerns when completing transactions online.

It’s no surprise then that ‘online payments’ are an area that local consumers are most cautious about and why German shoppers’ online payment preferences differ from other mature European ecommerce markets.

To help you provide the best customer experience for your international customers, we are taking a look at some of the most popular online payment methods German consumers expect to be offered when shopping online.


Unlike online shopping in the UK, invoicing is one of the most popular online payment methods in Germany, with around 58% of all online customers ordering online and paying after they receive their goods.

This payment option provides shoppers with the peace-of-mind knowing that they can try before they buy, meaning they are less likely to be out of pocket if the ordered item is no longer desirable.

However, invoicing can entail higher risks to the online merchant, since customers are more likely to order in bulk and return the goods that they no longer want, resulting in high returns rates and potential difficulties with debt collection.


Germany has a relatively low level of credit card usage compared to other developed European countries, due to concerns around confidential information being shared with the merchant. As a result many online shoppers in Germany still prefer to pay with cash, both in-store and as part of the online shopping process.

However, this trend is changing and German consumers are becoming more confident when paying with their personal credit or debit card. As with other European countries, the most common personal credit cards in Germany are Eurocard/Mastercard and Visa, with Mastercard slightly outperforming Visa with a 51.9% share.


Famous for being the most popular payment method in the Middle East, cash-on-delivery (COD) is still a viable payment option in Germany, with payment for purchased goods made at the time of delivery. If the shopper does not make payment when the item is delivered, the good is returned back to the seller.

However, COD is decreasing in popularity, particularly with the growth of more convenient payment methods and rise of younger, more tech-savvy online shoppers.


Online retailers in Germany are increasingly starting to provide their customers with a variety of alternative online payment methods, to overcome some of the security and convenience issues of more traditional payment methods.


PayPal is an online payment service that allows customers to use their bank accounts or credit cards in a single registered account to pay for an online purchase, without sharing confidential information with the merchant.

Providing shoppers with a robust level of security, PayPal is the most popular online payment method in the UK, and is quickly gaining popularity in Germany.


GiroPay is a German online payment system that is based on the principle of online banking. Introduced in 2006, this GiroPay allows customers to buy securely on the internet, using direct online transfers from their bank account.

Currently supported by more than 1500 banks, a customer can use the GiroPay payment service as long as they have an active online checking account in any of the supported banks.


Sofortü is an easy and secure method of processing online payments, built on the basis of online banking and real-time transaction confirmations to the merchant.

Unlike other online transfer payment methods, Sofortüberweisung requires no account registration. Instead, only credentials provided by the customer’s bank and a confirmation code are necessary to progress through the payment process. For additional security, each confirmation code can be used only once.

Prepaid Vouchers and Prepaid Cards

Although prepaid vouchers and prepaid cards are not currently as popular as other alternative payment methods in Germany, both are starting to see more traction among online retailers.

The prepaid voucher is an electronic stored value voucher, which can be redeemed through an SMS and is transferred instantly to a user’s account for immediate use. A prepaid card is a payment card with a stored monetary value that can be used to complete an online transaction without the need to maintain an account with a bank.

While these payment methods bring similar concerns to using credit and debit cards, since confidential information is being shared with the online merchant, the risk with prepaid vouchers and cards are limited to the monetary amount stored on them.

Online Bank Transfer

Online bank transfers are another payment option that is still very popular with German online shoppers. This online payment method allows a transfer of funds from one account to another within the same bank or interbank, and provides users with a secure way to pay for their online purchases.


Once you have selected and set up your online payment options, the next thing to think about is the best way to withdraw your revenue to make sure you are making the most of your online sales. To avoid being charged as much as 4% by traditional banks and inbuilt marketplace currency converters, sellers should seek the services of specialist foreign exchange companies who offer euro receiving accounts and will help to transfer euro sales into pounds at a competitive exchange rate.

Currency markets are constantly moving and making a transfer when the exchange rate moves against you can make a big difference to your bottom line. Using Rate Alert services and Forward Contracts like those offered by Currencies Direct can help you to secure a better exchange rate and protect against risk.

The German Ecommerce Landscape


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