Debit and credit cards remain the most common forms of payment. More than 94 per cent of people say that cards are among their most common payment method. Cardholders say they want better financial terms as well as more security through insurance and ID protection. These were the findings of a survey AXA Partners conducted among cardholders in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland.
94 per cent of survey respondents cited cards as their preferred payment method, followed by payment apps at slightly more than 50 per cent in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Fewer than 30 per cent of respondents said that they used cash to make purchases. Finland is an outlier, however. 33 per cent of Finns pay with cash and around 25 per cent use payment apps. The survey questions were multiple choice.
Cards are also the most widely used online payment method, with 72 per cent of Danes, 65 per cent of Norwegians, 51 per cent of Swedes and 46 per cent of Finns citing cards as their payment method of choice. “Buy now, pay later”-services such as Klarna and PayPal are the second most used payment method, followed by mobile payments such as Swish and Mobilepay. Only a small proportion of respondents use direct payment via bank, Apple pay and other similar services. Finland is the major exception; 26 per cent state of Finns say that they make payments via their online bank, making it the second most common payment method after cards.
“The survey shows that Sweden and Finland stand out, but for different reasons. In Sweden, online card payments are seeing competition from services such as Klarna and mobile payment apps, mainly Swish, both of which are more commonly used in Sweden when compared to their Nordic counterparts. In Finland, many still pay directly via their online bank”, says Jörgen Sandström, country manager at AXA Partners Scandinavia.
Three reasons stand out when it comes to choosing a payment method: simplicity, convenience, and security. The survey clearly shows that debit and credit cards are important; more than 87 per cent of respondents in Sweden, Norway and Finland say that it’s “important” or “very important” for cards to be widely accepted. In Denmark, the figure is slightly lower at 78 per cent.
When it comes to cash, the corresponding figure is around 40 per cent, and up to 50 per cent in Finland. Services like Swish and “buy now, pay later”-services such as Klarna vary greatly between 10 and 53 depending on the service and the country. However, no other service on the market can come close to matching cards when it comes to how important they are to users.
“Here, we clearly see that debit and credit cards are number one. It’s the payment method a majority of people expect to be widely accepted. It also shows that cards are a big part of people's everyday lives. So, ancillary card services such as insurance, ID protection and other benefits that make everyday life more secure, become hugely important”, says Teemu Kämäräinen , country manager at AXA Partners Finland.
More than 70 per cent of respondents possess more than one debit or credit card. In Norway, as many as 92 per cent have more than one card. Which type of card people use most is determined by a number different factors. More than 50 per cent of respondents stated that "The card is from my primary bank”, which clearly stands out.
When it comes to credit cards, slightly fewer than 70 per cent have a standard card; the remainder have gold, platinum, or other premium cards. While well over 90 per cent of respondents say that they like their credit card, it’s not all sunny skies. Many feel that fees are too high, benefits are subpar and interest rates are too high.
If cardholders got to make a wish list of changes and enhancements to their cards, two categories emerge. The first is financial in the form of lower fees and better financial benefits. The other is security in the form of insurance, payment protection and identity protection. The same pattern is visible when survey respondents rank their most important benefits. “Works everywhere” is most important, followed by financial terms and various security solutions.
Over 70 per cent of respondents in Sweden, Norway and Denmark cite ID protection as “important” or “very important”. 55-80 per cent (depending on the country) cite free travel insurance and cancellation protection as “important” or “very important” to have on their cards. A “low annual fee” is ranked the highest; more than 75 per cent of respondents cite this as “important” or “very important”. Access to airport lounges, an exclusive feel and card design are viewed as less important. The same goes for healthcare services.
“It’s obvious that a card's primary function, payment, is most important. Of course, financial benefits like low annual fees and bonuses are also appreciated. What I find interesting is how important enhanced security services such as insurance and ID protection are to cardholders – much more important than the feeling of exclusivity, access to airport lounges and other types of services”, says Jörgen Sandström, country manager at AXA Partners Scandinavia.
This is also reflected in the most commonly used benefits, where insurance and cashback or bonus programmes are used most. In Denmark, insurance is number one. Cashback and other bonus programmes are most popular in Sweden, Norway, and Finland. When asked which card services would motivate someone to use their card more often, financial benefits are the top choice, followed by security services such as ID protection, online payment insurance and travel insurance.
AXA Partners asked a randomly selected representative sample of 1,014 Nordic cardholders aged 18-70 about their payment habits and preferences. Mantap Global conducted the survey in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland in February 2021.
Contact your local AXA Partners representative in Sweden, Norway, Finland, or Denmark if you want to know more about survey results in your market.