Going global? Here’s your payment methods navigator

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Going global? Here’s your payment methods navigator

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People’s preferable ways to pay vary considerably around the world, affected by multiple factors: internet and banking services accessibility, smartphones penetration rate, economic and financial situation, and even people’s mentality. And yet the global tendency of the recent years is the decline in traditional payment methods usage, like cash or bank cards, in favour of alternative payment options, such as digital wallets, mobile solutions, bank transfers, etc.

For an online business stepping up to the expansion, it raises specific questions. How to find out which payment methods you’ll need for a particular market? How do people there use to pay? Which global options do they use?

Corefy has decided to chime in and answered these questions in the article you’re now reading. We did some research for you and prepared the list of the most used payment methods in the three most populous countries across six continents. As a meme says, ‘it ain’t much, but it’s honest work’. No fluff included: just an easy-to-navigate overview of the common payment methods across the world.

The most popular payment methods in North America

Having a population of over 580 million people, North America is a developed region with broad access to the banking system and high internet & smartphone penetration rates. There are 23 countries on the continent. Let’s explore the payment preferences of the most populated ones.


  • Americans prefer using credit or debit cards when paying online, accounting for 51% of 2020 e-commerce payments. The most popular brands are Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. Considerably behind in the brands’ race are Star, Pulse, and Discover.
  • PayPal is extremely popular, and Amazon Pay is gaining traction. Apple Pay is used much more than Google Pay. Overall, wallets share in the US e-commerce payments is 30%.


  • Credit cards account for 29% of online spending, which is the lowest rate in Latin America. In terms of brands, Visa prevails, followed by Mastercard, and the market share of other brands is minimal. Curiously, Mexicans choose cash for in-store payments.
  • Wallets are more common than debit cards, with PayPal being the most widespread. Bank transfers (BBVA) account for 10% of total online payments.


  • Canadians still prefer credit cards for online shopping. The card brand breakdown for Canada: Visa (40%), Interac (32%), Mastercard (25%), American Express (3%).
  • Similarly to the US, PayPal and Apple Pay are very common in Canada. The share of digital and mobile wallets in total online spending is approximately 23%.

The most common payment options in South America

Close to 430 million people live in 12 sovereign states of South America. It is a developing region that gradually gains traction and attracts entrepreneurs from all over the world. The payment market of this region has its specificities that a business should consider. Here are some details on three countries to give you a hint.


  • Brazil has the highest rate of using credit cards for online payments in Latin America (43%). Mastercard is a bit more popular than Visa. Another notable brand is Elo (18%). Last year, Brazil’s Central Bank launched PIX, an infrastructure for instant payments. Enabling it will allow merchants to make checkout faster and more convenient.
  • Popular alternative payment methods: Boleto Bancario, PayPal, bank transfers.


  • Cards account for 52% of 2020 e-commerce spending. Mastercard and Visa are ubiquitous. Other brands include American Express (1%) and Diners Club (1%).
  • People often pay online by using bank transfers (especially PSE bank transfer solution) and cash payment options like Efecty, Baloto, SuRed, etc.


  • Most online payments are made using credit or debit cards. Visa dominates (61%), followed by Mastercard (27%). Other brands have a much lower share (less than 4% each): American Express, Cabal, Tarjeta Naranja. The Argentinean Central Bank enabled smoother transaction flows by launching PEI, a new instant payment solution.
  • The institution has recently created a friendlier regulatory framework for fintech and PSPs, so we should expect an increase in the alternative payment methods market share. For now, the most popular options are Mercado Pago, PagoFacil, Cobro Express, and RapiPago.

Widespread payment methods in Europe

44 European countries are home to almost 750 million people. Europe is reasonably considered to be a very prosperous continent. It is a globally renowned business and innovation hub for years now. It can boast the highest internet penetration rate worldwide, developed e-commerce, and a highly competitive business sphere. So, how do people in Europe’s most populous countries prefer to pay?



  • Debit and credit cards are almost as commonly used as digital wallets. Top card brands: Mastercard, Visa, MIR, Golden Crown.
  • Top digital options: Apple Pay, Google Pay, WebMoney, QIWI, Yandex.Money.


  • Credit and debit cards tower above other payment methods, with Visa and Mastercard having almost equal shares.
  • Notable alternative methods on the Turkish market are PayPal and BKM Express. Many people also use bank transfers and solutions like Masterpass.


  • Germans prefer digital wallets, buy now pay later solutions, direct debit, and bank transfers over credit cards. The most popular card brand is Girocard (74%), Visa has a 14% share, and Mastercard – 11%.
  • Alternative payment solutions Germans prefer are Klarna, PayPal, Afterpay, Giropay, and SOFORT.

The leading payment methods in Africa

Africa has more countries than any other continent – there are 54 of them. It also accounts for a remarkable share of the global population, with more than 1,3 billion people living in Africa. It is a developing continent that attracts businesses with the size of a potential customer base, but there are some challenges to be aware of. For instance, the internet penetration rate is at 39%, considerably lower than the world’s average of 59%. However, many Africans have mobile phones. Combined, these two factors affected the region’s payment field and made it quite unusual.



  • Nigerian card brand breakdown: Verve (65%), Visa (19%), Mastercard (17%).
  • Nigeria has the second-largest online gambling industry on the continent, so besides cards, people frequently use bank transfers and digital solutions, like PayPal and Masterpass. Yet, cash on delivery is still the primary option in e-commerce (23%).


  • In general, Africa’s population is primarily unbanked. That’s why mobile money solutions are on the rise, especially amid COVID-19.
  • The number of mobile-money providers and demand for their services grow these years steadily. The most popular ones are HelloCash, E-Birr, and Sahay. However, the adoption of mobile money is lower than in Kenya, the region’s leader in this field.


  • The number of credit card holders (Visa, Mastercard) in Egypt is the largest in the region. Still, it’s a small share of the total population, and those who do have cards are reluctant to use them online. On the other hand, the penetration of debit cards and prepaid cards (Onecard is widespread across the Middle East) increases.
  • Over 90% of online purchases are paid with cash on delivery. That’s because available alternative solutions, such as mobile money, do not allow online shopping.

How people in Asia prefer to pay

Asia has a myriad of titles to boast. It’s the richest, the largest, and the most populous continent of the world. It accounts for almost 60% of the global population, being home to 4,5 billion people. It is a very attractive region for doing business, especially given the people’s innovation-readiness and eagerness to embrace new things. Here’s how it affects their payment habits.



  • Previously, the only card brand approved to work in China was China UnionPay. Now, American Express and Mastercard got the green light, but it’s too early for them to win a significant market share.
  • Remarkably, digital wallets account for 72% of all e-commerce payments and 50% of all in-store payments. The top payment methods are Alipay and WeChat Pay, and they are a must if you want to accept payment in China.


  • Credit and debit cards both have a 15% share in total e-commerce spending. The top 3 card brands are Visa (42%), Mastercard (31%), and RuPay (25%). Online bank transfers (UPI) are widely used, and Indians often pay with monthly instalments.
  • Digital wallet companies like Paytm are experiencing strong growth, attracting more players to the market. For instance, WhatsApp Pay has recently launched. Global options, especially Google Pay, are also on the rise.


  • Visa and Mastercard are dominating card brands in Indonesia, but online card payments are not a preferable option. Cash on delivery and bank transfers are more common.
  • Digital wallets lead Indonesia’s e-commerce payment methods race, represented by OVO, Go-Pay, and Unipin.

Prevalent payment options in Oceania

Oceania is the smallest continent on the planet. It is not very crowded: 43 million people live here. Curiously, a few million more people live in Spain. However, the region is not as competitive as Europe, giving a chance for striving businesses to enter and occupy their niche. Let’s explore the payments landscape of Oceania.



  • Credit cards top the chart of payment methods in Australia, followed by digital wallets and debit cards. Visa accounts for 44%, EFTPOS for 25%, Mastercard for 24%, and American Express for 6%.
  • The most used alternative payment methods are PayPal, AfterPay, ZIP, and POLi (bank transfer system).

Papua New Guinea

  • The country has some of the highest unbanked rates in the world, partially because of relatively underdeveloped infrastructure. Still, some people have bank cards and use them in-store and online.
  • Cash on delivery is the most popular way of paying for online purchases. However, the demand for online payment solutions rises, attracting both existing (2Checkout, Paysera) and emerging (NiuPay) payment providers.

New Zealand

  • Credit cards (EFTPOS, Visa, Mastercard, American Express) and digital wallets are the most frequent e-commerce payment methods. Bank transfers and debit cards have an equal share (15%).
  • Increasingly popular are ‘buy now pay later’ options, along with Apple Pay and Google Pay. Also in use are PayPal, POLi, and AfterPay.

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