Understanding Swiss Payment Preferences:
Cash, Cards and Other Patterns

Understanding Swiss Payment Preferences:
Cash, Cards and Other Patterns

A research collaboration of SIX and the University of St.Gallen (HSG)

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Unique Approach

The approach of this research paper is unique due to two main reasons. First, it covers a large representative sample of consumers over a significant period of time. We examine 760 million anonymized transactions executed by three million cardholders' over a period of 13 months. Our data covers a wide sample of cardholders in Switzerland, representing all regions, languages, and bank groups. A study with such a comprehensive scope and in-depth analysis for the Swiss market is a novelty.

The collaboration between SIX and the University of St.Gallen (HSG) combines the access to insightful high-quality debit card payment data, analytics capabilities, and in-depth research. This enables us to find answers to business-relevant questions using sound research methods and data insights.

This white paper seeks to answer three main questions:

  1. What are the overarching characteristics of the payment behavior while using debit cards?
  2. What describes consumer usage of debit cards at the point of sale (POS)?
  3. How is consumer demand for cash characterized?

We answer these questions by leveraging anonymized data on consumer transactions with Swiss debit cards.

Main Findings

  • Two-thirds of cardholders prefer card over cash payments.
  • No major change in the share of consumer payer types throughout our observation period.
  • A surprisingly large share of consumers exhibits changing payment behavior from month-to-month.
  • We observe significant variation in payment preferences across cantons, even within the same greater regions.
  • We observe no significant differences in payment behavior between rural and urban areas.
  • On average, cardholders from the German and French speaking regions display similar payment behavior, while cardholders from the Italian-speaking region have a higher preference for cash.

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