Digital Payments Barometer 2024: Digital payments continue to grow, especially among the younger generation

Stay up to date with the latest measures from the financial sector

27 June 2024 - 8 min Reading time

Digital payments continue to gain ground in Belgium, with habits evolving rapidly, particularly among young people. This generation is increasingly adopting payments by smartphone and other wearables as well as by QR code. These are the findings of the latest Digital Payments Barometer, an Ipsos study conducted by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in partnership with Febelfin, Bancontact Payconiq Company, Mastercard, Visa and Worldline. This study is part of the Digital Payment Day, which aims to promote digital payments.


Mobile payments appeal to Gen Z  


Overall, mobile payments are on the rise in Belgium. This year, almost one Belgian out of two (49%) has made at least one mobile payment (by QR code or with a connected object), up from 44% the previous year.  

A smartphone, a smartwatch, etc.

A closer look at the different mobile payment options reveals that mobile payment with QR code is continuing its upward trend: more than two out of five Belgians (42%) have carried out a mobile payment via QR code, up from 36% in 2023. Mobile payments with a connected object are also increasing. A quarter of Belgians (26%) say they have made a payment using a connected object, compared to 21% in 2022.  

Young people aged 16 to 24 make more use of the latest payment technologies. On average, one out of two young people is also comfortable carrying out mobile payments via QR code (47%) and mobile payments with a connected object (50%).   

In general, this generation now prefers mobile payments (34%) to contactless card payments (32%). As for whether this trend will continue, the future for mobile payments (via QR code or connected object) is looking good: 29% of people who have not yet adopted this method of payment consider trying it in the future.   


1 out of 2 young people own cryptocurrencies  


Although 9 out of 10 Belgians (89%) have already heard of cryptocurrencies, very few actually own them (20%). These figures remain stable compared to 2023.  

Cryptocurrencies are significantly more popular among young people, with ownership increasing. More than one out of two young Belgians (52%) aged 16 to 24 own cryptocurrencies, compared to just 42% in 2023. The percentage of ownership declines among the 25- to 34-year-olds, with nearly 2 out of 5 (36%) owning them. Ownership tends do decline as age increases.  

Like in 2023, the main motivation for cryptocurrency holders remains investment, cited by 30% (compared with 28% the previous year). Another reason for owning cryptocurrencies is to use them as a means of payment (21%).  

The sector will continue to raise awareness among all age groups of the risks associated with these new forms of currency. Financial education is crucial to enable everyone to make informed financial decisions.   


Contactless card payments are becoming increasingly common


In 2024, contactless card payments continue to be the preferred method of payment in Belgium. More than 4 out of 5 Belgians (82%) have used this payment method before. By way of comparison, in 2020, only 47% had already carried out a payment using a contactless card.  

Contactless card payments are valued for their security and speed. This payment method is now well established among Belgians, with more than three quarters (77%) of them comfortable using contactless cards (compared to 43% before the corona crisis). This upward trend is even more remarkable among the 45 to 54 year olds, with 84% comfortable using contactless card payments.   

Finally, almost two out of five Belgians (39%) say they prefer contactless payments if they had to choose between all forms of payment. This trend is reflected in almost all age categories up to 65 years except the 16 to 24 year olds, who clearly prefer mobile payments.   


Digital payments still popular than cash  


As last year, more than 4 out of 5 Belgians (82%) prefer digital payments. The findings of the Barometer show that Belgian consumers are more likely to pay electronically than in cash in physical shops.   

Young people aged 16 to 24 are less likely to use cash than the rest of the Belgian population. Less than one young person out of two (47%) have used cash recently, compared to 60% for all age categories combined.


Debit cards remain the preferred payment method for online purchases   


Online shopping remains very popular among Belgians, with more than 4 out of 5 Belgians stating that they have already made a  purchase online (87% in 2024 compared to 85% in 2023).  

Belgian consumers most often use their debit card when buying products or services online. However, they are less likely to use a debit card for online purchases under €25 (30% in 2024 compared to 36% in 2023). Compared to 2022, they are also more likely to use a banking application or payment application such as Payconiq by Bancontact for smaller amounts. 

For purchases over €50, Belgian consumers regularly use their credit card in addition to their debit card, banking application or payment application. Compared to last year, there has also been an increase in the use of credit cards among the 16 to 24 year olds who recently made online purchases.  


Digital Payment Day


Again, the 1st of July marks Digital Payment Day. A few years ago, the partners Febelfin, Bancontact Payconiq Company, Mastercard, Visa and Worldline initiated this day dedicated to digital payments to encourage consumers to favour digital payments. 

 In 2022, this date also coincided with the implementation of the law that standardizes digital payments to all businesses and liberal professions in Belgium. This law allows consumers to pay with an electronic means of payment in all shops (in addition to cash).  

According to the latest findings, more than 7 out of 10 Belgians are aware of this legislation, a slight increase from 2023 (66%). Fewer Belgians find themselves unable to make digital payments (58% in 2024 compared to 63% in 2023). When this happens, more than one in 10 Belgian (12%) prefer to cancel the transaction and leave the shop. This proportion is higher among young people aged 16 to 24: 18% refuse the transaction if no electronic payment is possible.   

We live in an increasingly favourable environment for digital payments. We also see a change in young people's payment habits. Given these developments, it is likely that one day, mobile payments will become the norm. To be continued...  


About the Digital Payments Barometer 

The Digital Payments Barometer compiles the findings from a survey conducted by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel on payment trends in Belgium. This extensive research was carried out by the Brussels Department of Applied Economics, led by Dr. Leo Van Hove, Professor in Monetary Economics, and Dr. Ellen Van Droogenbroeck, Professor in Macroeconomics and Statistics. In March of this year, a representative sample of 1,116 Belgians participated in this survey, online or via telephone, sharing their payment habits and preferences. The results provide valuable insights into the payment behaviours of Belgians and offer a means to track the development of digital payments. The Barometer is part of a broader initiative aimed at promoting digital payments. It was launched in 2020 with the first results published in 2021.