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Germany Cards & Payments Market Report

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  • Published Date: May 2021


A comprehensive analysis of the cards, payments and consumer banking market in Germany, with insightful commentary backed by key market data.
The report explores the German payments system covering infrastructure payment preferences, consumer payment trends and the development of online payment systems. It covers the debit and credit cards markets with analysis and commentary on market size, transaction and billed volumes, profit pool analysis, networks and issuers.
We chart the development and dynamics in the mobile payments market in Germany including proximity and P2P payments. Our writers and researchers frame information in contexts such as historical, sectoral and regional trends, adding a layer of value often missing from the rolling news cycle.
Germans are embracing digital payments and making considerably more electronic payments now than they were in the middle of the last decade. Opportunities are now opening up for market entrants who can tailor their offerings to traditionally cautious consumers.
Contactless transactions have more than doubled year-on-year since 2017, while the acquiring landscape in Germany is steadily simplifying as consolidation continues.

What you can learn from this report:

How Germans are finally starting to relinquish cash.
Why revolving credit's potential is growing.
What will drive mobile payments in Germany.
The unusual role of NSPs in acquiring.
The network growing German credit card market share.


  • Germany has a unique retail banking model with consumers often preferring local savings and cooperative banks to commercial banks for day-to-day banking.
  • The country is finally becoming less reliant on cash, having historically been an outlier for its cash preference among major developed economies.
  • Growth in card use has continued through 2020 despite reduced retail spending due to the pandemic, with an eight per cent increase in total card transaction purchase volume over 2019.
  • Contactless use has accelerated after a slow start. More than half of all debit card transactions were contactless in 2020.
  • The German cards market is dominated by the domestic debit scheme Girocard, which co-badges with other networks.
  • Germany has a small revolving credit cards market that is dominated by a handful of banks.
  • Deferred debit cards, most branded Visa or Mastercard, are preferred to traditional credit cards.
  • Germany is a pioneer of 'buy now, pay later' options in e-commerce. Open invoice was widespread here, long before the method was popularised worldwide.
  • Ownership of Germany's two largest acquirers has changed hands in the last year, with Worldline taking over Ingenico and Nexi purchasing Concardis.

Germany Payments Research | Report Contents

Demographics and the economy.
Payments environment.
Cards market.
Mobile payments.
Profit pool.
The networks.
Key retail banks and issuers.
Acquiring and processing.
Online acquiring.
Regulatory and other cards market information.

Germany Report Data Tables
(All 2014-23F unless otherwise stated.)

1: Demographic and economic indicators.
2: Ownership of key consumer devices.
3: Internet usage by population.
4: Access points: 2014-21F.
5: Account penetration.
6: Consumer payment trends: 2014-21F.
7: B2C e-commerce payment methods: 2014-21F.
8: Total card payment metrics.
9: Contactless card metrics: 2016-23F.
10: Credit card numbers.
11: Total credit cards metrics.
12: Credit card profitability indicators.
13: Debit card numbers.
14: Debit card metrics.
15: Pre-paid/e-money card metrics.
16: Mobile proximity payment metrics.
17: Mobile P2P payments.
18: Profit pool: credit card numbers, billed volumes, oustandings, interest incomes, net interest revenues, merchant revenues, card fee revenues, other non-interest incomes, total revenues, net credit losses, operating expenses, total expenses, pre-tax profits, merchant service charges, rollover rates, APR, net credit losses to outstandings, operating costs to revenues, ROA (pre-tax profits to outstandings).

(All 2014-21F below unless otherwise stated.)

19: Networks' credit card market shares.
20: Networks' credit card numbers.
21: Networks' credit card billed volume.
22: Networks' number of credit card transactions.
23: Networks' average credit card transaction value.
24: Credit card interchange fees by network.
25: Networks' debit card market shares.
26: Networks' debit card data numbers.
27: Networks' debit card billed volume.
28: Networks' number of debit card transactions.
29: Networks' average debit card transaction value.
30: Debit card interchange fees by network.
31: Key credit card issuers market shares by credit card numbers: 2016-21F.
32: Key issuers market shares in credit card outstandings: 2016-21F.
33: Key debit card issuers market shares by debit card numbers: 2016-21F.
34: Merchant acquirer credit card market share: 2020E.
35: Credit card merchant service charges: 2014-23F.
36: Merchant acquirer debit card market share: 2020E.
37: Debit card merchant service charges: 2014-23F.
38: Credit card issuer/issuing processor relationships: -
39: Credit card acquirer/acquiring processor relationships: -
40: Credit card issuing processor market shares by card numbers: 2020E.
41: Credit card acquiring processor market shares by the number of POS transactions: 2020E.
42: Online merchant acquirer market share. 2020E.

Germany Country Report | Selected Extracts

Demographics and Economy
The unemployment rate fell to 3.1% by the end of 2019, its lowest level for the past decade. However, with the pandemic impacting economic activity, unemployment is estimated to have increased to 4.3% by the end of 2020.

Payments Environment
Germans are renowned for their heavy cash usage ... however, the proportion of cash in relation to overall spend at the POS was estimated to be approximately 40% in 2020, having been closer to 50% from 2017-2019.

Payment Cards Market
Germany is the largest payment cards market in Western Europe in terms of cards in circulation: an estimated 161 million at the end of 2020. In that year, just over seven billion card purchase transactions were made, with an average value of $65.

Mobile Payments
Mobile payments are growing from a low base, with only a small market share from some bank-based solutions. Value-wise, mobile payments contribute less than 1% of the country's payments market.

Profit Pool
The overall credit cards market is characterised by a larger share of deferred debit cards – at 34.6 million cards in circulation compared to just 6.2 million revolving credit cards in 2020.

Card Networks
Germany has a competitive credit cards market, with four major international brands having a presence. UnionPay claims to have acceptance at over 70 per cent of merchants. The dominant scheme, Girocard, is a preferred network for domestic debit card transactions, while cross-border transactions are mainly routed through the processing centre of the respective brand.

Key Retail Banks and Issuers
The top five credit card issuers issue less than half of cards. This contrasts with countries such as France and Britain, where the top five are responsible for a significantly higher proportion. This situation stems from a fractured and highly localised retail banking sector.

Acquiring and Processing
The acquiring market has been going through transformational mergers and acquisitions, a trend that mirrors consolidation in the payments space on both sides of the Atlantic, with non-banks doing much of the running. Fiserv (formerly First Data), TSYS and Worldline dominate the German processing landscape.

Online Acquiring
Germany is the second largest e-commerce market in Europe, trailing only the United Kingdom. Total online card spend for 2020 is estimated at $86 billion. Invoicing is the preferred online payment method, accounting for about 33% of total B2C e-commerce billed volume in 2019.

Regulatory and Markets Information
Under the rules of the 36-country strong Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), all payments are treated as domestic transactions with identical procedures and standards enabling credit transfers, direct debits and card payments to be processed efficiently, inexpensively and safely in all participating countries.

Germany Payments Report | Entities Referenced

ADAC, Advanzia Bank, Advent International, Adyen, Amazon, American Express, Apple Pay, Automobile Club of Germany, B+S, Baden-Württembergische Bank, BaFin, Bain Capital Private Equity, Bank for International Settlements, Barclaycard, Barclays, Bayerische Landesbank, Berlin Institute for Population and Development, BIS, BMW, BNB Paribas, Bonprix, BP Europe, BS Payone, Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht, Bundesbank, Bundesverband der Deutschen Volksbanken, Bunq, BVR, BW-Bank, CardDuo, CardProcess, Cardtech, Comdirect, Commerzbank, Computop, Concardis, Conrad Electronics, Consorsbank, Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale, Cyberport, DB PFK, DB Privat- und Firmenkundenbank, DB Vertrieb, DekaBank, Destatis, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Bundesbank, Deutsche Card Services, Deutsche Kreditbank, Deutsche Postbank, Deutscher Sparkassenverlag, Deutschland RENTE, Diners Club, Discover, DKB, DKV, Douglas IT & Services, DriveNow, DSGV, DSV Group, DZ Bank, EBA, ECB, EHI, Elavon, Equens, Esso Germany, Euro Banking Association, EuroHandelsinstitut, European Central Bank, Eurostat, Eurowings, Evo Payments, Federal Association of Public Banks of Germany, Federal Ministry of Finance, Financial Market Stabilisation Agency, First Data, Fiserv, FMSA, General Credit Protection Agency, German Savings Bank Association, Gesellschaft für Zahlungssysteme, Girocard, Giropay, Global Collect, Global Payments, Golfcard, Google Pay, GZS, Hagebaumarkt, Handelsverband, Hanseatic Bank, Harley-Davidson, Heidelpay, Hein Gericke, Helaba, Hervis, Hilton, Hymer, ICP, IMF,, Ingenico, InterCard, International Monetary Fund, International Telecommunication Union, ITU, JCB, Karstadt, Klarna, Kreditbank, Kwitt, Landesbank Berlin, Lavego, LBB, LBBW, Lufthansa, Maestro, Mastercard, Mister Spex, Monese, N26, Nets, Nexi, Notebooksbilliger, Novalnet, Ogone, Otto, Paydirekt, Paygate, Payone, PayPal, PaySquare, Postbank, PSA Bank, Deutschland, Raiffeisenbanken, Revolut, REWE Information System, Santander Bank, Santander Consumer Bank, Santander Consumer Leasing, SCHUFA, SEPA, Shell Germany Oil, Single Euro Payments Area, SIX Payments, SIXT, SoFFin, Sofort bank transfer, Sony Music, Spar, Targobank, Tchibo, TeleCash, TF Bank, TSYS, UniCredit, UnionPay, US Bancorp, V PAY, VeriFone, Visa, V-B-ZVD, Volksbanken Raiffelsenbanken, VR Payment, WEAT, Wirecard, Worldline, Zalando.


Reports include detailed market and competitor intelligence on payments cards, e-money, acquiring, retail banking, and consumer credit in Europe. Analysts use primary and secondary source data and conduct in-depth interviews with senior industry executives and finance experts.

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