Payment methods are changing What do you think about paying without cash?

Compared to the rest of the world, cash is still widely used in Switzerland, though contactless payment is becoming increasingly popular.

by UBS Insights 16 Oct 2020

Illustration: Pia Bublies

It's lunchtime. You rush to grab a bite to eat from a small Italian takeout. But when you reach for your wallet, you discover you don't have any cash. As likely as not, your next destination is the nearest ATM. But less and less often now that cashless payment has come into vogue.

Last year's Swiss Payment Monitor revealed that people under 65 still pay in cash almost half of the time. A study by the University of St. Gallen and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences found that 44 percent of payments are cashless – of these, at least a third were contactless. Checks, direct debit and other payment options make up less than 10 percent. The study also showed that new ways of paying, such as contactless or by mobile phone, are on the rise. A majority of respondents indicated they want to use these options more frequently in the future.

The COVID-19 crisis has transformed Swiss payment habits. Many experts believe the shift is lasting. Tobias Trütsch, Head of Economics at the University of St. Gallen, has published preliminary figures. They show that the number of credit and debit card transactions has risen sharply in the current extraordinary circumstances, rising in mid-May this year by 13% and 23% respectively compared with January levels. TWINT, a uniquely Swiss payment system, has in recent months recorded as many as 7,000 new registrations per day – more than twice as many as last year. The payment methods Samsung Pay, Google Pay and Apple Pay, with no more than a 10% user share, still lag behind TWINT with a 38% user share.

Simple and secure

The digital payment trend is growing because:

  • Paying cashless is convenient: You pay by holding your card or smartphone up to the payment terminal – that's it. Counting out money and fumbling for coins at the register is old school.
  • A sense of security: Many consumers are uncomfortable carrying around large sums of cash. The security solutions for cashless payment transactions are always state-of-the-art, so you can be confident that these new payment methods are watertight.
  • Paying cashless is easy: You can always pay, whether you happen to have cash in your wallet or not. Payment terminals for cards and smartphones are increasingly common in retail stores, and many small shops and market stalls are following suit.
  • Never lose sight of your spending: Thanks to monthly billing and the personal financial assistant in UBS Digital Banking, keeping an eye on your account balance is simple – and you can review your expenses at any time.
  • Easily share a bill: Digital payment methods such as UBS TWINT make it easy to split and settle bills among friends.
  • Hygiene measures: Another factor has become more relevant in the wake of COVID-19: hygiene. Contactless payment is the answer. Whether you are paying smaller sums by card without PIN or by smartphone, your device guarantees security (PIN, fingerprint or facial scan).

The card acts as a foundation

The majority of payment methods require you to have a credit or debit card before you can make cashless payments. UBS offers you a wide range of options such as credit cards (with your choice of additional services), prepaid cards or UBS debit cards.

All UBS cards can be used to pay contactless when shopping. You only need to hold the card briefly to the payment terminal. The current limit for purchases without PIN entry is 80 francs. All this makes paying quick and hygienic.

Contactless payment at a glance

UBS has compiled all the information you need for paying contactless with debit, prepaid and credit cards.

Smartphone for ease of use

With security measures built into the device, paying by smartphone or smartwatch makes worrying about PIN codes a thing of the past. These can either be the device PIN, your fingerprint, facial recognition or another form of built-in security.

UBS offers you a wide range of digital payment methods for your smartphone or smartwatch. Choose the one that suits you best. UBS TWINT is the most widely used payment app in Switzerland and is available for all smartphones. UBS Mobile Pay is suitable for Android smartphones and can be easily activated in the UBS Mobile Banking App. The payment methods Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Apple Pay are available for smartphones and smartwatches.

Check out and decide for yourself which payment option suits you best. Chances are that you'll soon be able to choose yourself how you want to pay at market stalls – or at that little Italian restaurant around the corner!

Mobile payment at a glance

Want to know more about paying securely and conveniently with your smartphone or smartwatch? All you need to know about the different offers at a glance.