Assessing cultural differences in e-commerce

The European Commission’s PSD II bill looks to standardise e-commerce procedures throughout the EU, highlighting some of the manners in which member states approach spending.

When representatives from 28 different European nations delegate, day-to-day dealings in Brussels’ European institutions often present a series of cultural obstacles.

The latest challenge has come in the form of the latest update to the Payment Services Directive (PSD II). The proposal aims to standardise and broaden the use of a card, online and mobile payments between European markets, as e-commerce continues to pull in more and more consumers from around the continent.

However, a recent article on the Brussels-based European news website, EurActiv, suggests that the biggest challenges facing the directive are not regulatory but cultural, highlighting the different preferred payment methods around the continent.

Larger economies embracing e-commerce

Perhaps it comes as little of a surprise that the United Kingdom has the highest level of credit and debit card spending across the EU, with spending expected to double over the next decade.

Europe’s other powerhouses, Germany and France, are expected to see similar growth patterns in new payment technology.

Mastercard’s global payment readiness index has even earmarked the UK as a primary candidate for testing mobile payments in the foreseeable future.

Central and emerging European countries

By contrast, the EurActiv article also highlighted that countries such as Italy have a much more cash-friendly consumer attitude while the index stated that it will take significant efforts in marketing and education to raise a willingness to use the technology.

The research offers a fascinating insight into how central European nations approach e-commerce. Currently, it suggests that online retail websites would perform significantly better in the Western European states that currently dominate the e-commerce.

Wijnand Jongen, executive committee chairman of trade group Ecommerce Europe described Europe’s larger economies “like youngsters” when it comes to embracing e-commerce while emerging countries “are like toddlers learning how things work and what the opportunities are”.

Growing popularity in e-commerce and online payment

However, the exponential rise of e-commerce is showing no signs of yielding, and while emerging markets boast some of the fastest growth.

A European-wide initiative such as PSD II, which will standardise modern means of payment will surely see the rate of e-commerce sales continue to grow and will offer fantastic opportunities to retailers around Europe and enforce the continent’s position as a leader in online retail.

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