“Theoretically, smartphones could soon replace wallets.”

Almost 20% of Swiss people have paid for their shopping by smartphone at some point in the past. And this proportion will almost double in the foreseeable future, according to the study “Goodbye wallet, hello smartphone?” by the consulting firm Deloitte. Konstantin von Radowitz from Deloitte is convinced that mobile payment will catch on soon.

According to your study, how do Swiss people use mobile payment?
Mobile payment is a broad term which includes paying at a cash register, paying on the Internet and peer-to-peer payment. In shops, a distinction can be drawn between two solutions: either you pay for the product via the shop’s app or via a third-party provider. Examples of the former are the Coop, Migros, Manor and Starbucks apps. According to our study, 27% of Swiss mobile payment users use only such apps. By contrast, 54% rely exclusively on apps of third-party providers. Here, TWINT, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay dominate the market. Nineteen percent use both solutions.

Why do customers use mobile payment?
According to our study, their primary motivation is that they do not want to carry cash and bank cards with them. The more cards (loyalty cards, subscriptions, identity cards, etc.) can be integrated into the smartphone, the greater this advantage becomes. In this respect, smartphones could theoretically replace wallets in the not-too-distant future.

How will this market develop?
It is developing relatively dynamically. Mobile payment has great potential and the market is likely to grow accordingly. There are two reasons for this: firstly, the relatively high usage rate of 17% of all consumers in Switzerland. If these people can be persuaded to use their payment apps more frequently, the transaction volume will increase rapidly. Secondly, a further 14% of those surveyed stated that they would like to try out mobile payment apps in the coming months.

In other words, a significant portion of the Swiss population has installed mobile payment apps but uses them only rarely?
Many people are open to new technologies and have already tried out the new payment solutions at least once, but it will take time for these apps to really catch on and be used a lot. This was no different with other digital payment solutions. Another factor is that many consumers mainly use additional functions such as direct transfers to other people (peer-to-peer) but do not yet use the payment function.

Is the impression that Swiss people still like to use cash correct?
Switzerland is indeed a country of cash. Shops still generate half their revenues in cash. The situation is very different in countries like the US or Sweden, where digital payment methods have long accounted for the majority of revenues. It is a matter of habit. Furthermore, many people in this country do not want their transactions to be recorded. That said, the long-term trend here is also moving in the direction of digital payment methods. In the last 17 years alone, the share of cash in revenues generated at stationary points of sale has fallen by 25 percentage points. If we use our smartphone for more and more everyday activities, paying with it will also become perfectly normal.

What must a mobile payment solution offer in your experience to be successful on the market?
Decisive factors from the customer’s perspective are user-friendliness, security and usability. To put it another way, the payment app should be as fast and reliable as possible and be accepted in as many shops as possible.

How will we shop and pay in the future?
The importance of the online sales channel will continue to increase. Online sales in Switzerland have been growing at a disproportionately high rate for years. At the same time, however, their share of total revenues is still relatively modest, at just 7%. This figure is likely to rise to 11% by 2022. In other words, 89% of revenues will still be generated in shops. A trip to the shops remains important for the majority of consumers. Despite this, digital technologies and online channels are playing an increasingly important role, as most customers use their smartphones to obtain information on products, prices and ratings before or even during their shopping trips. They can ask about product information such as delivery times, sizes and colours directly in the shop and scan products with their smartphones. If they then pay the bill with their smartphones too, checkouts will no longer be required.

Konstantin von Radowitz

Konstantin von Radowitz is Lead Partner for Consumer & Industrial Products at the consulting firm Deloitte Switzerland. He also leads the M&A Transaction Services group. He has more than 20 years’ experience of advising organisations in the domestic and international markets.

The Deloitte study “Goodbye wallet, hello smartphone?” investigates the extent and potential of digital payment systems in Swiss retail. To this end, face-to-face interviews were held with representatives of a range of Swiss retailers and a survey was conducted of 1,000 Swiss residents.


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