International payment methods online: preferences per country

Cash is still the most widely used payment method, but it is gradually being forgotten. Different international payment methods online are gaining ground both in physical shops and in the e-commerce sector.

However, there are still some regions that have not yet taken the plunge. Why are there differences between countries? How many payment methods exist in other countries, and what are they? Knowing the answers to these two questions is essential when it comes to expanding cross-border and strengthening your business internationally.


Most used payment methods in the world

We can divide the world’s accepted payment methods into two main groups: conventional and online.

Conventional payment methods are fading, but they should not be ruled out (if possible) when including them as a method of payment in your business, as they are still the most widely used. These include cash, cheque and cash on delivery.



However, online payment methods are where the variety of options is really wide-ranging. This group includes credit or debit card purchases, wire transfer (which also includes the well-known Bizum), online payment without a card, payments with mobile devices and the famous bitcoin.


International payment methods online per continent

You may have a beautifully designed website, well-positioned and top-quality products or services, and competitive prices, but if your payment system is not adapted to the local culture and customs, it will all be in vain.

This is why it is important to understand that international payment methods online that work in one country may not work in another, and vice versa.

Moreover, nothing makes a customer angrier than encountering obstacles when it comes to paying for a product. Consumers are increasingly looking for immediacy, so running into problems at this last stage of the purchase will put them off buying. And thus, they will not trust your brand again.

Online payment methods in Europe

There is no such thing as a uniform approach on the European continent.

While in Switzerland cash payment is less and less used and even goes obsolete, where 80% of purchases are paid cashless, the opposite is true in Germany. According to the Bundesbank (Germany’s central bank), card payments are rare in Germany.

The most popular online payment methods in Europe is more similar to the German trend than to the Swiss one, with 79% of transactions being made in cash in 2020.

The cash culture is mainly due to the fact that this continent started to introduce these new payment methods at a very early stage and made numerous mistakes along the way. This, coupled with the lack of incentives for customers to pay online, has meant that the cashless culture has not grown further.




However, Europe is the continent that accepts online payments the most.

In Spain, the most popular are credit and debit cards (65%), followed by e-wallets or virtual wallets (19%), which are used by apps such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, etc.

In France and the UK, the use of cards as a form of payment online is also predominant. Germany, in particular, prefers direct debits, followed by PayPal or e-wallets.

The Netherlands is also a special case as its citizens prefer the iDEAL payment system whereby customers can shop online via direct transfers from their account.


Payment methods in Asia

In Asia, the cashless culture is in full swing. This is particularly true in countries such as Russia, China, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia, especially in cities such as Bangkok, Singapore, Tel Aviv and Seoul.

When it comes to online shopping, they prefer to use their mobile phones rather than credit cards. In China, for example, the use of AliPay or WeChat Pay, which are also being introduced in Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia, is predominant.

In India, however, credit cards are the most widely used. Whereas, in Malaysia, 47% prefer to use mobile applications and 25% use credit or debit cards.

In other countries, such as Indonesia, the use of electronic cardholders is also very common, but physical cards still predominate.


Methods of payment in Africa

When it comes to which payment methods are accepted in Africa, the continent is the least likely to have jumped on the online payment bandwagon. This is because, according to a PwC study, there is a direct correlation between the use of alternatives to cash and the development of an economy.

However, Africa should not be underestimated here, as the citizens in some African countries have a high acceptance rate for this type of payment method. This has been the case in Kenya with the creation of M-Pesa, a Safaricom product, exported to other countries on the continent, which allows you to send and receive money, make mobile payments or withdraw cash from ATMs.


Payment methods in America

In contrast to Africa, North America is at the top of the list of the most cashless areas. Credit cards prevail online, followed by e-wallets, debit cards and charge or deferred debit cards.

As we can see, the North American consumer is highly banking-intensive due to the fear of fraud, which often leads to a rejection of online shopping.

métodos de pago online - North America 2022 forecast


When it comes to South American online commerce, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico are the most adapted countries. In Colombia, for example, it is still difficult to make the leap to cashless payment due to the legal obstacles that restrict e-commerce.

Mexicans prefer to use cards for online shopping, as do the Spanish. The most popular e-wallets are PayPal and Mercado Pago, Argentina’s favourite e-wallet. Brazilians follow a similar trend, also using bank transfers and the Boleto Bancario (Bankers Ticket) method.


Tell me where you are, and I’ll tell you how you pay

There is no magic formula when it comes to selling online in other countries. International payment methods online vary depending on the market, where there are specific features and payment trends. Understanding and adapting to them will be fundamental to the success of your international business.

A country’s payment system is just one more cultural aspect to keep in mind. So, if you are planning to sell cross-border with your online shop, make sure you take this into consideration.

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About the author

Teresa H. Santacreu

Formada como jurista y politóloga, acabó descubriendo que su verdadera pasión era la comunicación, con lo que se decantó por especializarse en Periodismo Internacional. Gracias a todo ello, se atreve a escribir en este blog sobre cualquier tema: traducción, internacionalización, cultura…

One response to “International payment methods online: preferences per country”

  1. Cheryl says:

    Your post emphasizes the importance of building a strong network and establishing connections within your industry or niche when pursuing money-making opportunities. It’s a way to unlock new opportunities and collaborations.

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