Payment knowledge pays off

Will the Girocard be abolished?

Update from 09 June 2023

In 2023, there will be important changes made to cashless payments with debit cards. Germany's most popular payment card is getting international company. What is changing at the checkout and what do retailers need to be prepared for? We keep you updated.

Stapel physischer Girokarten, Debitkarten, Kreditkarten

The Girocard, also known as the "EC card," is the most popular cashless payment method in Germany. Around 100 million Girocards are in circulation, and they can be used to make payments at more than one million terminals. But Germany's popular payment card is increasingly getting international company. Here is how to prepare your checkout for the new variety.

Girocard, a hit at the cash register: More popular than cash in the store

Under the Girocard logo, the former "EC card" has become a real cash cow over the years. The most popular German payment card was used 6.7 billion times in 2022 – a new record, reports the umbrella organization of the German banking industry. Last year, a total of EUR 284 billion worth of transactions were made by Girocard, around 80 percent of them contactless (1). At German checkouts, the Girocard has now replaced cash as the payment method with the highest turnover. In e-commerce, however, the German payment solution lags far behind international payment methods such as Paypal or credit cards. 1. An deutschen Ladenkassen hat die Girokarte das Bargeld inzwischen als umsatzstärkstes Zahlungsmittel abgelöst. Im E-Commerce hinkt die deutsche Bezahllösung internationalen Bezahlverfahren wie Paypal oder Kreditkarte allerdings deutlich hinterher.

Updated 30.06.2023: What is changing?

The Girocard is a German payment solution. However, thanks to the long-standing cooperation with the international card service Maestro, German bank customers have so far been able to use their cards at more than eleven million acceptance points abroad. Maestro is a subsidiary of the international credit card organization Mastercard, which is now saying goodbye to Maestro. From July 2023, banks and savings banks in Europe will no longer issue giro cards with the red and blue Maestro logo and the international payment function. When abroad, German customers will therefore have to rely on internationally accepted payment cards from VISA or Mastercard, for example. In Germany, on the other hand, they can continue to pay by Girocard as usual.

Is my company affected by the changeover?

Yes, even if the Girocard can continue to be used without restriction for cashless payments in Germany, all companies will be affected by the changeover in the medium term. This is because the German Girocard will lose market share to international competitors. Direct banks in particular, such as Consors, DKB, ING or N26, are already pushing the use of internationally useable debit cards from VISA or Mastercard as the central account linking card and no longer offer their customers checking cards at all or only at an additional charge. Sweepstakes or cashback campaigns are encouraging customers to use the new cards diligently. And it's been a success: In 2022, Visa and Master debit cards could already more than triple their share of retail sales. This is demonstrated by figures presented by the Eurohandels Institut Köln EHI at the German Payment Congress in May. According to the report, the share of sales accounted for by international debit cards rose from 0.8 to nearly three percent in just one year. 2

Accept international credit and debit cards: Pros & cons

Digital payments are on the move. The use of international debit cards from Visa or Master will increase steadily – firstly because German customers are increasingly relying on the cards for offline and online payments. But also because international customers are increasingly using new debit cards that can be used worldwide.

Just like the Girocard, international debit cards offer merchants high payment security and quick access to their revenues. This is because when paying by debit card, the cardholder's account is debited immediately. Unlike a credit card, purchases on credit, monthly billing, or instalment payments are not possible with a debit card. Accepting the cards is very simple: After one-time terminal activation, you can automatically accept international debit cards in addition to physical and mobile credit card payments.

Anyone who adapts to innovative products and changing payment preferences early on and offers customers their preferred payment options at checkout has a clear advantage.

Would you like to accept debit and credit cards on your card terminal in the future?
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