Mobile payment: why the Swiss pay with Twint

Status: 04/10/2022 09:31

Anyone who makes mobile payments in Switzerland usually uses the local alternative Twint instead of Paypal or Apple Pay. Why is the app number 1 for daily purchases or when transferring money between friends?

By Kathrin Hondl, ARD Studio Geneva

Weekly market in the Plainpalais district of Geneva. Radish, lamb’s lettuce, spinach leaves – if you please: five francs and have a good day too. Change jingles and change hands. More and more often, however, it no longer rings here. Because the friendly saleswoman wrote “Pay in cash or Twint” on a wooden sign and drew a heart next to it.

“We accept the Twint payment app here at the market stall. We have the QR code. It’s convenient for customers. No need for a card or cash, just the phone,” explains the saleswoman. “More and more people are using it. And since we don’t have a card payment machine here, they are happy to be able to pay over the phone here.” Or with “Twint” – the Swiss payment app that is directly linked to your own account.

No credit card needed

You don’t need more than a current account to install the app on your mobile phone. Unlike most international payment apps, a credit card is not required.

This also makes Twint appealing to young people – like student Felipe. “If I left my wallet at home, I can pay with Twint in almost any store in Switzerland,” he explains. “Another function that I find great is: send money. I only have to enter the phone number and I can easily transfer a certain amount or request money: if we go to a restaurant, eat together, then we can easily foot the bill like this split.”

More successful than Apple Pay and Paypal

The national payment app is more successful in Switzerland than global competitors such as Apple Pay or PayPal. As early as 2020, a study by the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts estimated Twint’s market share for mobile payment methods at around 75%.

The number of users continued to grow, reports Markus Kilb, CEO of Twint AG. “We currently have well over four million active TWINT users. This is very strong growth: we had around one million registered customers at the end of 2018 and around 600,000 to 700,000 active customers at the time,” says Kilb. . “We have more than 200,000 online and offline acceptance points in Switzerland where I can pay with Twint.”

The success of Twint is probably explained by the story of its foundation – a successful merger of two start-ups that had launched payment applications in Switzerland at the same time. “A Twint 2.0, so to speak – you’ve just brought the best of both worlds together here,” says Kilb.

Owned by banks and finance companies

The current Twint AG is owned by several banking and financial companies, including the major banks UBS and Credit Suisse, as well as PostFinance, which had already launched the first Twint company. “It doesn’t matter which bank you are with: Twint is there for everyone” – this is how the app advertises to new users.

“I think our strength also lies in our local roots,” says Kilb. The company works closely with the farmers’ association. And that’s how twinning is also practiced in rural Switzerland: When farmers sell eggs, fruit or flowers in the open air or in the farm shop, the QR code in the TWINT app is now usually pasted on the boxes to insert money.

“For the farm store operator, this has the great benefit of no longer running the risk of having their cash register stolen,” says Kilb. “It is even recommended by the police that agricultural shops use a corresponding Twint solution.”

Mobile payment in Switzerland – the success of the Twint app

Kathrin Hondl, ARD Geneva, April 6, 2022 11:04 a.m.

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