France offers exciting opportunities for ecommerce entrepreneurs in industries from travel to cosmetics to luxury clothing and beyond. Online shopping has a French market share of an estimated $100 billion, so there's plenty of room for new businesses to break into this valuable sector.
In this expert guide, we explore the six most popular payment methods in France so you can prepare to offer these options when you expand.
6 Top Payment Methods in France
If you decide to grow your business by establishing a physical or online presence in France, you’ll want to get familiar with these six common payment methods.
1. Credit and Debit Cards
France follows the global trend of cards as the most common payment method. French residents use debit and credit cards to make about 57% of their online purchases according to a report by Statista.
Cartes Bancaires (CB) is the most common type of credit card in France. CB partners with Mastercard and Visa to issue co-branded credit and debit cards that can be used for both traditional and ecommerce transactions.These purchases represent nearly $500 billion in annual sales, so it's a must to accept CB as a French business. In fact, about 95% of French credit cards come from this brand.
Debit cards tend to be more popular than their credit counterparts here. France also has deferred debit cards, which means the bank makes one monthly withdrawal to cover all your transactions for that period. This differs from the instant debits common with U.S. cards, so you may need to analyze the effect on your company's cash flow.
2. Digital Wallet Payments
French consumers have adopted digital wallets as the second most popular online payment method. You'll find both familiar international companies like Google Pay, Apple Pay and PayPal as well as France-specific options such as Lyf, Lydia and PayLib. PayLib is among the most common digital wallets in France since it connects with Cartes Bancaires.
3. Mobile Payments
About 38% of French ecommerce transactions involve payment with a digital device. Consumers who want to pay with their phones and watches in France can choose from global brands like Amazon Pay, digital wallet brands like Lyf, bank-specific apps, and mobile-only payment solutions like Revolut and Monese.
4. Buy Now, Pay Later
Transactions using Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) have increased in France over the past few years. In a 2021 Oney survey, 32% of French people said they prefer the option of flexible installment payments when making purchases online. Popular providers offering BNPL payments in France include international companies like Klarna and local options such as Alma and Floa.
5. Bank Transfers
French consumers commonly use electronic bank transfers for significant purchases and monthly payment obligations. They're often used for global transactions as well. Customers need the SWIFT or BIC code that identifies the company's bank as well as the International Bank Account Number (IBAN), so bank transfers aren't as popular for ecommerce buys.
France is one of the few countries where many people still use paper checks (spelled here as "cheques"). Most banks provide free checkbooks to their customers. They can use traditional checks for large payments without the fees charged for electronic bank transfers.
The Best Way to Accept Global Payments
Pay.com is the partner you need to take your business worldwide. You'll be ready to accept a wide variety of payment methods, whether you decide to expand to France or select a different nation for your next endeavor.
Some of the biggest benefits of using Pay.com's full-service payment infrastructure include:
- The ability to accept a wide range of payment methods, including international options
- High-level security that complies with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) including multi-factor authentication and other advanced ways to shield private customer data
- Robust development options including APIs that integrate with your existing online presence
- A transparent, flat-fee payment structure so you won't be surprised by steep charges
The Bottom Line
Accepting these six payment methods will provide a positive start for your new operations in France. Although you'll notice some national and local options when you start taking payments from French customers, you'll also run into many global digital wallets and cards that you probably already accept.
Pay.com is a comprehensive payment service provider with flexible solutions designed to grow with your business. Whether you're entering the ecommerce realm for the first time or you're making the switch from another provider, you'll be impressed with our ability to support the most popular payment methods from all over the world.