Mobile payment: why the Swiss pay with Twint

Status: 04/10/2022 09:31

Anyone making mobile payments in Switzerland often uses the local alternative Twint instead of PayPal or Apple Pay. Why is the app #1 for everyday shopping or transferring money between friends?

By Kathrin Hondl, ARD Studio Geneva

Weekly market in the Plainpalais district of Geneva. Radishes, lamb’s lettuce, spinach leaves, please: five francs and have a nice day too. Change jingles and change hands. However, more and more frequently, it no longer sounds here. Because the friendly saleswoman wrote “Pay Cash or Twint” on a wooden sign and drew a heart next to it.

kathrin hondl

“Here at the market stall we accept the Twint payment app. We have the QR code. It’s handy for customers. You don’t need a card or cash, just your phone,” explains the vendor. “More and more people are using it. And since we don’t have a card payment machine here, they’re happy to be able to pay by phone here.” Or with “Twint”, the Swiss payment app that is linked directly to your own account.

No credit card required

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

This also makes Twint attractive to young people, like the student Felipe. “If I’ve left my wallet at home, I can pay with Twint in almost every 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, we eat together, then we can easily pay the bill as that division” .

More successful than Apple Pay and Paypal

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

The number of users continued to increase, reports Markus Kilb, CEO of Twint AG. “We currently have over four million active TWINT users. That’s very strong growth: we had about a million registered customers at the end of 2018 and about 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.”

Twint’s success can probably be explained by its founding story: a successful merger of two startups that had launched payment apps in Switzerland at the same time. “A Twint 2.0, if you will, you just got the best of both worlds here,” says Kilb.

Ownership of banks and financial firms.

Today’s Twint AG belongs to several banking and finance companies, including major banks UBS and Credit Suisse, as well as PostFinance, which had already launched the first Twint company. “No matter which bank you’re with: Twint is there for everyone” – this is how the app advertises itself to new users.

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

“For the farm store operator, it has the big advantage that they no longer risk having their cash register stolen,” says Kilb. “Even the police recommend that farm shops use a matching Twint solution.”

Mobile payment in Switzerland: the success of the Twint app

Kathrin Hondl, ARD Geneva, April 6, 2022 11:04 am

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