Highlights Swiss Payment Monitor 2/2021

Research note dated August 18, 2021

Cash is no longer the most frequently used means of payment

For the first time, cash is no longer the most frequently used means of payment in Switzerland. It was ousted from first place by the debit card. This is shown by the current Swiss Payment Monitor from the ZHAW and the University of St. Gallen.

The debit card has replaced cash as the most widely used payment method in Switzerland for the first time. More than every third payment (34%) is now made with the debit card. Cash payments continue to decline over a year after the outbreak of the pandemic and now account for almost 30 percent of the number of transactions. This is shown by the Swiss Payment Monitor (SPM) carried out by the ZHAW and the University of St. Gallen for the fifth time. For the study, more than 1,400 people representative of all of Switzerland were interviewed in May 2021.

Debit card shows the highest share of sales

In Switzerland, most money is spent with the debit card. Their share of total expenditure makes up 31 percent, followed by credit cards with 25 percent. Compared to the last edition of the SPM, these two payment methods have swapped places in terms of sales. "We attribute this to the fact that online business accounted for around 50 percent in the November 2020 survey, while it was only around 30 percent in the current survey of May 2021," explains ZHAW payment expert Marcel Stadelmann. In the face-to-face business, the debit card is clearly dominant with a transaction share of 38 percent and a turnover share of 41 percent. Cash is still the second most common use of on-the-spot payments (34%), followed by credit cards (17%). In terms of sales, credit cards (27%) are ahead of cash (25%) in face-to-face business, as they tend to be used to pay larger amounts.

More and more online purchases are made using a mobile device


Online shopping is most common via a mobile device (42% of transactions). This corresponds to an increase of 12 percentage points compared to November 2020 (30%). In second and third place are invoices (26%) and credit cards (14%). In contrast, at 47 percent, invoices still hold by far the largest share of sales in distance selling, ahead of mobile payments (20%) and credit cards (18%). Large amounts in particular are paid by invoice. "The average amount of the bill (CHF 99.–) is more than three times as high as with a credit card (CHF 31.–) and around seven times higher than with mobile payments (CHF 16.–)", says Tobias Trütsch, payment economist at the University of St. Gallen.