EHI study: Card payment on the winner’s podium, cash back challenges retailers


On average, Germans went to a retail store 215 times in 2022 to make purchases. Looking at the entire population, this figure adds up to 17.9 billion transactions, according to a study by the EHI Retail Institute e. V. The economy is thus slowly leaving the crisis year of 2021 behind and continuing to recover. In the process, one question is of particular concern to it: Which payment systems dominated the retail sector last year?

Head-to-head race: Card payment vs. cash

The Corona years are seen as the initiator of the increase in card payments. In fact, the German Bundesbank noted a greater use of non-cash payment methods as early as 2019 – a good year before the Corona pandemic. However, the current EHI study “Payment Systems in Retail 2023” shows that payment behavior is not regressing much towards cash, even after the crisis years. The result of the survey of around 409 companies with a more than 100,000 establishments: Card payments continue to occupy first place, with cash following in second place.

The trends are moving in opposite directions. Card payments increased their share by 0.9 percentage points and now account for over 60 percent of sales. The Girocard has a huge share of this. International debit brands continue to grow. With an annual turnover of around 465 billion euros in the retail sector, this adds up to over 270 billion euros. The share of cash, on the other hand, continues to decline and was 37.5 percent in 2022. The remaining percentages are accounted for by coupons as well as invoice and financial purchases.

Mobile payment transactions

The share of card-based payments made via mobile devices has risen from 3 to 5.4 percent. According to this, customers are increasingly reaching for their smartphone or smartwatch at the checkout and paying for purchases with the card stored there. Apple Pay, Google Pay, and the respective apps of the savings banks and cooperative banks are leading this trend.

This trend makes it clear that payments need to be faster and faster, and merchants and customers should save time as well. For physical card payments, the first positive changes have resulted . Only 23.5 percent of transactions still require the card to be inserted into the reader. For the remainder, a simple contact is sufficient. PIN entry is also dispensed with in over 70 percent of payment transactions.

POS software – relief for retailers

As a second, cash is far from being written off. For example, the EHI study showed that the cash-back option is used by many customers. This is why almost 90 percent of the establishments surveyed from 35 sectors offer cash back – usually in combination with payment via Girocard. As part of this service, around 12 percent of cash receipts were returned to customers via the store checkout last year.

It is therefore important that cash processing for retailers quickly becomes less complex and more time-saving. The digitization of cash processes in the back office and efficient management at the point of sale represent effective workload reductions here. An established industry solution: Interactive Cash Control (ICC) as a platform for cash management. In addition, our ALVARA POS Connector enables the automation of cash handling. This saves time during the checkout process. It is a quick-to-implement middleware that provides optimum support for front office cash recycler management in all payment, change, and inventory management processes – regardless of the cash recycler manufacturer.

But that’s not all: our software solutions cover the entire spectrum of cash processes – from digitized manual safebag processes and optimized checkout procedures to the monitoring of cash recyclers during automated cash processing.

Nearly 8 billion transactions show that the POS is the main focus of the retail industry. Optimized checkout processes and efficient cash handling are therefore absolute must-haves. We would be happy to discuss with you where there is optimization potential!