The subscription business model has proven to be effective and profitable for a variety of business types, but when it comes to recurring payments, consumers in different countries have different preferences regarding their payment options.
Which payment methods your customers prefer to use is an important consideration in any business’s payments function. Ignoring your customers’ payment preferences can introduce friction into their buying journey and make your competitors a more welcoming alternative. Addressing them, however, can increase conversion, improve customer loyalty, and reduce churn.
YouGov surveyed more than 15,000 consumers in the U.S., Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand regarding payment preferences. While no particular payment preference was dominant across the board, the survey did uncover some interesting insights. Subscription-based businesses would do well to hear how the market feels about the available payment options.
How North Americans View Recurring Payments
There isn’t one dominant preference among consumers globally. However, there are significant differences among consumers in North America versus those in Europe and Australia.
Consumers in all seven countries have the same available payment options for recurring payments — cash, debit cards, credit cards, bank debit (ACH debit), PayPal, wire transfers, and checks. Interestingly, no single payment option is the preferred choice for all consumers. Just as interesting, consumers in each country have different views regarding these options.
Credit cards are popular in the U.S., but many consumers choose credit cards for specific use cases and prefer other options in other use cases. Bank debit (ACH debit) payments are the most preferred option for installment payments but don’t fare as well for other use cases even though they are still popular. Americans are not fond of PayPal, overall.
Canadians have similar attitudes toward credit cards as Americans. They’re popular but widely disliked. Canadians also like wire transfers more than Americans and like PayPal even less. Bank debits are quite popular in Canada.
Mercator Advisory Group conducted a survey of over 3,000 consumers in North America and asked them two distinct questions; the first asked about the payment types that consumers used to pay for certain good and services. The responses were quite varied based on circumstance. The second, follow-up question asked of the same group of survey respondent which payment type they would prefer to use to make these payments. The responses were starkly different, meaning consumers were being forced to accept a payment type that was best for the provider, but did not fit their needs. A provider that can offer broad payment choice will certainly increase loyalty with their existing customers and have a competitive advantage.
Popular Recurring Payments Options in Europe
Bank debit payments are overwhelmingly the favored payment option in the UK. Debit cards are more popular than credit cards, which are popular but a least favorite for many consumers.
The French also highly favor bank debit options. Credit cards are another popular choice. Use case also matters much more in France. The third most popular recurring payment option depends largely on what the French are buying. PayPal and checks make the list in France while those payment options are less favored in the U.S. and UK.
In Germany, bank debits and wire transfers are popular. Germans also appreciate PayPal more than anyone else, but they don’t like checks at all.
Australians view bank debits and debit cards in a similar way to UK consumers. Credit cards are popular, but many Aussies have a strong dislike of them. Among the top three payment preferences, there is no overwhelming favorite.
Credit cards are more popular in New Zealand than anywhere else. For some use cases, they’re the favored recurring payment option. Just like in Australia, there is no overwhelmingly favorite payment option for all use cases.
How COVID-19 has impacted consumer payer preferences
The future belongs to subscription-based business models. Few consumers globally want to return to pre-pandemic levels of cash usage. In the U.S., half the consumers haven’t changed how they pay with cash usage as a result of the pandemic. The survey reveals that digital payments are growing in popularity post-pandemic and digital recurring payment options are likely to expand.
German consumers show the highest favorability toward returning to pre-pandemic cash usage, but it’s at 23 percent. Globally, more than 85 percent of consumers are okay with cash playing a smaller part of their lives.
In general, consumers want payment options that are easy to use, automatic, and commonly accepted. That means bank debits, wire transfers, credit cards, and debit cards are in while cash and checks are on their way out. But they’re not completely gone yet.
Access the consumer payment preferences report
The consumer payment preference report was developed in partnership with YouGov and GoCardless. For additional findings and statistics on the payment preferences around the globe, how COVID-19 has impacted payment preferences, and the factors you should consider when collecting recurring payments, download the full report. This complimentary report showcases the data on consumer payment preferences in 2021 on three different continents.
Download “How do consumers prefer to pay?” to get the latest insights on how consumers in North America, Germany, France, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand prefer to make recurring payments in a post-COVID business environment. Fill out the form below to gain access to the full report.