Top 10 alternative payment methods in Europe


Greetings to the whole financial world! The OctoStrategy team wishes you an amazing mood this week. We hope it will be even better than it was when you get new and useful information from this article. Our team decided to raise a topical question about payment methods in Europe. Visa and Mastercard payments are popular worldwide and, of course, throughout Europe, but along with them, there are local alternative payment methods in different regions.

It is worth noting that one of the largest and most mature e-commerce markets continues to be Europe: According to a report by Ecommerce Europe and EuroCommerce, the European e-commerce market has grown by 13 percent and already reached 718 billion euros in 2021. Cross-border commerce in Europe accounted for 26.2 percent of total online sales in 2021, according to Ecommerce News. That figure continues to grow in 2022.

Despite the fact that the European Union has a single internal market, the payment behavior of consumers may differ from country to country.

Along with international giants (such as Visa, Mastercard, Apple Pay, PayPal, etc.), each region has its own local alternative payment methods that are extremely popular with the local population.

For new players on the market it's critically important to give customers the opportunity to pay in a way that is convenient for them, so one of the primary tasks when expanding your business is to localize the payment scenario.
Do payment methods really matter?

In short, yes. Choosing the right payment methods for your checkout can have a massive impact on conversion rates.

Let's imagine a situation: a customer decided to buy something on your site, but going to the payment page, he didn't see a familiar and convenient method in the list of payment methods. What is the probability that he will complete the purchase, rather than proceed to your competitor's site? The obvious advantage of connecting local payment methods is an increase in conversion.

Despite higher transaction fees, retailers that offered BNPL payment options reported increases of up to 200% in units per transaction. The increasing popularity of open banking also signals the strong appeal of alternative payment methods. With 4.5 million open banking users as of early 2022, account-to-account transfers will only increase.

Critically, payment method preferences are significantly impacted by geography. In some EU regions, card ownership can vary by as much as 99% of the population to just 27%. Even if customers have cards, there is no guarantee that accepting card payments alone will be sufficient to drive conversions on your site due to local cultural preferences.

Based on Ecommpay internal statistics we compiled the top 10 popular alternative payment methods in European countries. The mobility and micromobility industry, retail, IT services, tourism and hotel business, social networks, business aviation - this is by no means a complete list of the industries they serve.


A popular online bank transfer method in Germany.
  • Leader on the German market for direct bank transactions: 99.9% of German banks are connected to it.
  • It is also popular in Austria, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
  • 20 million users, an average of three million transactions a month. The brand is widely known and trusted.
  • 35,000 sellers offer this method of payment to their customers.

Sofort, also known as Pay Now, allows you to make a fast and easy payment of your online purchases using your online banking details. The merchant receives a real-time confirmation of the transfer order and can dispatch the goods promptly or allow the download.

How does it work?
  1. The customer logs in to their online banking to authorise the payment they’re making
  2. The transaction is approved and is logged in your dashboard along with a ‘paid’ status
  3. Final arrival of funds can take between 2 - 5 days.
  4. Upon receipt of payment, Mollie will update the transaction status to 'paid out'.

To minimize risk, sellers should wait until payment is received before shipping the item.


Also a very popular online payment method in Germany.
  • Introduced in February 2006, this payment method allows customers to buy securely on the Internet using direct online transfers from their bank account
  • Bank transfers are the most popular online payment method in Germany. They are used to make 51% of online purchases.
  • More than 1,500 banks are connected to Giropay, serving 17 million customers.
  • The most important integrated banks are Postbank, Deutsche Kreditbank, Volksbanken, Comdirect, Raiffeisenbanken, Sparkassen and Finanzgruppe.

Because it uses real-time bank transfer, the payments made with Giropay are 100% guaranteed.

How does it work?
  1. The customer selects their bank from the list of participating banks.
  2. After selecting the bank, the customer logs in to the online banking environment.
  3. In the online banking environment the customer reviews the prefilled payment details.
  4. If all the information is correct the customer authorizes the payment.

After the authorization the customer will receive a confirmation and the product will be sent.


Multibanco is the largest interbank network in Portugal, that links the ATMs of 27 banks in Portugal, with more than 13,000 machines. Multibanco is a fully integrated interbank network. One of the most notable characteristics of Multibanco is the wide range of services that can be utilized through its machines.

Multibanco in itself does not only encompass ATMs. It has a fully-fledged EFTPOS network called Multibanco Automatic Payment, and is also a provider of mobile phone and Internet banking services through the TeleMultibanco and MBNet services respectively. It is also the provider of the Via Verde automated toll payment service.

Here are some more interesting facts about this system:
  • Portuguese interbank network that can be used for both bank transfers and cash payments.
  • Widely known and secure payment solution: all major Portuguese banks are connected to Multibanco.
  • It's been on the market since the 1980s, so most Portuguese people know how to use it.
  • About 900 million transactions pass through Multibanco every year.
  • 78% of e-commerce buyers in Portugal use Multibanco.

How does it work?

Customers can use the Multibanco payment system through online banking systems or by ATM systems. All major banks of Portugal support this service, and, thus, almost all citizens use it for online transactions.


iDEAL is a common payment method in the Netherlands. This is an online payment method that enables consumers to pay online through their own bank. Payments are made via bank app or online banking environment.
  • A bank transfer system covering all major Dutch banks.
  • 59% of all online transactions in the Netherlands are made through iDeal.
  • The method was first introduced on the market in October 2005 and has shown rapid growth ever since. iDeal is gaining popularity as a way to pay for online purchases abroad: it is accepted in online stores in more than 60 countries.
  • The main integrated banks are ABN AMRO, ASN Bank, Bunq, ING, Knab, MoneyU, Rabobank, RegioBank, SNS Bank, Triodos Bank, Van Lanschot.

How does it work?

With a regular iDEAL-payment you choose for iDEAL at the checkout and then your bank. If you pay with an iDEAL QR code, you can scan the QR code using your bank app*. After scanning, the iDEAL payment starts immediately and everything is equal to an iDEAL payment via your bank's app.


Bancontact originates in Belgian and is a market leader in electronic payments there.
As a payment scheme, it is responsible for checking, calculating, and processing electronic payments. These payments can be made via debit cards using its features (with or without a PIN code, both contactless and via the visible chip) or reading a QR code via the smartphone. Thus, one can make electronic payments in stores, stations, gas stations, or in online shops. It can also be used to withdraw money from the machine or to pay for it in a mobile way.
  • The leading online debit card payment method in Belgium: Customers use Bancontact in more than 80% of Belgian online stores.
  • Bancontact cooperates with more than 20 banks in Belgium, it's a reliable partner and well-known provider of electronic payments.
  • Streamlined customer experience: payment via app is available.
  • No chargebacks - a unique feature for debit cards.

How does it work?

As Bancontact is a payment scheme, it’ll involve certain parties to function. The parties are a payment service provider and an acquiring bank. The payment system uses a specific infrastructure to maintain and process the transactions. There are three steps the system makes:
  1. Verify. A client types the PIN and the system verifies if the customer has enough funds to make a payment.
  2. Calculate. Then the issuing and acquiring bank exchange the client’s financial information.
  3. Process. If the customer has sufficient funds, it’s okay to process the payment.


EPS is a widely used online bank transfer payment method in Austria. The Austrian government joined forces with local banks to develop this scheme, allowing domestic consumers to pay securely for online purchases via their trusted online banking. EPS is connected with three million Austria-based bank account holders, sitting at the forefront in the payment ecosystem of the DACH region as a trusted payment solution.
  • The leading payment method in Austria based on bank transfers: More than 80% of all Austrian online stores offer it to their customers for payment.
  • High level of security: The payment process is done exclusively through the secure online banking of the customer's bank.
  • Three million active users in Austria.
  • Many official e-transactions are also conducted via EPS, as EPS is the official payment method of the e-government.

How does it work?

At online checkout, shoppers select EPS as their preferred payment method. From there, they’re redirected to the EPS bank selector page where they’re asked to choose their bank. Then, the consumer hops to their familiar online banking environment.

After signing into their bank account through their bank credentials and PIN, the consumer is asked to review the transaction summary.

Once they have verified the validity of the information, they'll need to authorize their transaction via Strong Customer Authentication (SCA). The SCA method may vary from bank to bank, but an example of this would be a request for an SMS code to enter on the bank's authentication page.


Przelewy24 is the largest online payment operator in Poland offering innovative solutions for e-commerce. Using Przelewy24 allows you to carry out transactions on all devices and use many payment methods – fast transfers, BLIK, card payments, mobile payments (Apple Pay, Google Pay), electronic wallets and instalments.
  • A real-time bank transfer system, to which 165 Polish banks are connected.
  • Thanks to Przelewy24 more than 95% of Polish online banking users can easily and safely make purchases online.
  • Over 60 thousand Polish online stores accept this method of payment.
  • The success or failure of the payment will be confirmed on the bank's page, while the relevant transaction status will also be communicated to the merchant.

How does it work?

Customers can choose Przelewy24 as a payment method at the cash desk of any Polish online store. After choosing their bank they will go to their online banking application, where they approve the payment.

The payment is confirmed immediately and guaranteed. No chargebacks, no stress.


Blik is a payment system in Poland that allows users to make instant payments and withdraw cash using only the user's standard mobile banking app.
  • A Polish bank transfer service via mobile application. Smartphone owners can pay for purchases online and in stores, as well as withdraw cash from ATMs.
  • On average, 100 million transactions a year pass through BLIK.
  • Available in applications of the 17 largest banks in Poland: Alior Bank, Bank Millennium,
  • Santander Bank Polska, ING Bank Śląski, mBank, PKO Bank Polski, etc.

How does it work?

When a smartphone user pays with BLIK, their banking application generates a special passcode. The code is then used at a BLIK-compatible ATM or online store, before confirming the transaction in the mobile app. Just a few steps, and it's done!


Klarna is a BNPL payment method which is very popular in Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom, Austria and the Netherlands.

BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) payment methods are on the rise. Klarna is by far the most famous example, with a recent valuation of $45.5 billion USD. BNPL payment methods are likely to face regulatory challenges that could impact the growth of their services. For now though, their popularity is impossible to deny.

From a customer perspective, BNPL systems work by charging installments until the full
amount is paid.

How does it work?

Klarna offers a pay-in-four payment plan, which lets shoppers split their purchase into four equal installments to be paid every two weeks, with the first due at checkout. For example, if your purchase costs $200, you would pay $50 at checkout.

Open Banking

Innovative financial technology that allows you to transfer funds directly from the buyer's account to the seller's account using Open API.

The method is available in all EU countries and the UK. Through a single Open Banking solution, it will be possible to connect to all leading banks in Europe and England.

The fastest payment method on the market, which is predicted to lead the market in the near future. A new study by Ecommpay shows that 36% of UK companies have already implemented Open Banking and another 32% will do so within a year.

Consumers only need to complete standard bank authentication to pay, there is no need to enter card details or additional credentials.

Customers pay directly through online banking, which allows funds to be transferred immediately. This is especially convenient for users looking for quick payment options, e.g. for accessing digital content, buying airline tickets, etc. It also eliminates the risk of chargebacks for the merchant.

Final word

The popularity of local alternative payment methods is explained by the fact that customers are used to them and trust them. With their help they can quickly pay for their purchases without wasting time on getting acquainted with other methods they don't know. Giving customers the opportunity to pay with a method they trust, you increase their trust in your brand and significantly increase your chances of success.
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