On October 17th this year, iCard gathered friends, partners, and even competitors at a cozy business breakfast at an elite venue in Sofia.
I’m glad to say that some prominent representatives of the industry joined us such as, Stoilka Arsova from BORIKA, Todor Georgiev from FastPay, Daniela Bobeva from the Bulgarian Science Academy and many more. The event itself was covered by Bloomberg Bulgaria, Forbes Bulgaria, ComputerWorld.bg and others.
In this pleasant atmosphere, we discussed the results of an important representative survey iCard did a few months ago. We wanted to understand how people in Bulgaria feel about modern payment solutions such as the iCard digital wallet. We surveyed 400 people, age 18 to 65, all living in the cities and regularly using smartphones and the internet.
Cash or card?
If you’ve visited Bulgaria recently you probably noticed that this is a common question here as well. Our survey showed that the main preferred payment methods here are precisely those – with a debit card and in cash. Bank transfers, payments via online and mobile banking are also becoming more and more popular.
It is important to note that over 90% of people who regularly use debit cards, still pay more often with cash. Only 18% use their plastic more than 20 times a month, compared to 79% for those doing cash transactions.
The daily amount of cash available to people is still relatively large – an average of 66BGN per day (~33 EUR).
It was extremely interesting for iCard as a business to understand how people respond to cashless and contactless payments. To our satisfaction, these methods are already used daily and most people perceive them as quick, comfortable and secure. Nearly 80% said they had made a contactless payment with a card for the past three months. On average, 12 such payments are made on a monthly basis.
Do people pay with their phones?
Of course, one of the things that we were most excited about was to learn what people think about their phone as a payment tool. I wouldn’t say that the results here were surprising, having in mind the novelty of the service on the Bulgarian market. Although all respondents use smart mobile devices regularly, only 11% of them have made a contactless payment with their phone in the last three months.
What we found to be a good indicator for the market potential is that people familiar with the method use their phone almost as frequently as they use their contactless cards – on average 9 payments per month.
Another finding we consider favorable is that people perceive paying with their phones as very safe, fast and convenient.
At iCard, we consider all that as a solid ground for the future development of mobile payments as a service. We also consider ourselves as a well-positioned brand with the great potential to preserve our leadership spot on the Bulgarian market.
Another interesting fact is that people in Bulgaria have a very low understanding of what a digital wallet actually is. What I found most fascinating is that most of the people do not really make a difference between a digital wallet and mobile banking.
Do people still queue up?
It is curious to note that there is already a change in people’s attitudes towards the available ways to pay their utility bills. Many people still pay their bills on the spot, although, as it became clear from our survey, this is not the most preferred method among them.
The digital wallet iCard already provides a good alternative that allows billing to be paid directly through the application – quickly, easily and securely. Here it is appropriate to mention that the people inclined to make payments on the spot are those who have lower incomes, are aged under 29, and usually, live in smaller towns.
It is typical for women to mix billing methods, most likely according to convenience in a particular situation.
The Bulgarian consumer already uses a great variety of payment methods. There are many factors for choosing a financial product. What people value most is the security of payments, low maintenance fees and fast processing of the transactions.
We see a growing trend in using debit cards, as well as in choosing various other non-cash alternatives such as online and mobile banking, phone payments and online shopping. At iCard, we think that this trend will continue ascending, and soon the speed and convenience of non-cash operations will prevail over the habit of having paper money in our pocket.
In our opinion, phones will take on an increasing share of contactless payment methods in the near future. An important role in this will be to raise awareness among consumers about the benefits and, above all, the security of this method.
Having in mind that the security comes first when choosing a payment product, it can be concluded that cash is still king in Bulgaria and that we are still far from the world trend of “cashless society”.
The iCard digital wallet is a reliable payment alternative that not only makes your everyday life easier but also offers the highest level of protection similar to that of traditional banking institutions.
If you are not sure yet whether iCard is for you, you can check out all of our services listed here and decide on your own.