eCommerce & Technology

Domestic and preferred card schemes

In the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) credit cards are the most frequently used payment method for online purchases. About four in ten online transactions in the UK are paid by credit card. Debit cards also do well, as 35% of online transaction are paid this way. PayPal is the country’s third most used online payment method. These three represent 96% of the online payments, so you could say other payment methods don’t have a say. In Ireland debit and credit cards are very popular, with the Irish debit card Laser being the most popular. [1]

Payments in the UK are dominated by credit card and debit card payments. Debit cards (Maestro and V-PAY) and PayPal are relatively popular compared to other European countries. Online banking is virtually non-existent. The UK is the only European country where Address Verification Service (AVS) is supported by Visa and MasterCard issuers. There is also strong issuer support for 3D-Secure. For Maestro and V-PAY, 3D-Secure is compulsory. Over 90% of the population is a Visa or MasterCard cardholder (including Visa Debit cards).

Alternative Payment Methods

77% Visa/MasterCard 10% PayPal 8% Debit Cards 5% American Express [2]

40% Credit Cards, 35% Debit Cards, 21% PayPal [3]

Mobile Appetite

Mobile commerce (which includes both sales via tablets and smartphones) accounted for 45% of the UK e-retail market in 2015, up from less than 1% in 2010. Four out of ve of the devices making up this gure in 2015 were tablets and the remainder smartphones. 63% of retail website visits are now coming via mobile, according to the IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking Report. The latest data from eDigitalResearch indicates that 44% of UK consumers have used their smartphones to shop online for products, while 54% have purchased goods via a tablet device. [4]

Other payment methods

Currently the UK is the only European country with where AVS (Address Verification Service) is supported. 2. There is strong issuer support for 3D Secure (an extra security step in the payment process designed to stop fraudulent transactions), with the UK being one of the few countries where enabling 3D Secure actually improves overall conversion. [5]


Internet shopping has been made considerably safer through the introduction of 3D secure - the online equivalent of the chip and PIN system. The UK has recently seen the introduction of online fraud prevention initiatives like American Express SafeKey, MasterCard SecureCode and Verified by Visa, which require cardholders to register their cards and create passwords for provision when shopping online with participating retailers, adding an extra layer of protection through two-factor identification. Recent years have also seen the introduction of the automated address verification service (AVS) and the card security code (CSC).

These checking systems provide extra protection against fraud by endowing participating businesses with additional information to help identify fraud risks. Respectively, these initiatives allow retailers to verify the billing addresses of cardholders and cross-check the security code that is contained on the signature strip at the back of a payment card. Banks and card companies are also implementing increasingly sophisticated fraud detection systems, for example using consumer pro ling to identify unusual spending patterns or atypical behaviour in a consumer, helping to identify potentially fraudulent transactions.

The card company will contact the cardholder to enquire about the transaction in question, and can instate an immediate card block if necessary. Adding to the above, there are a variety of additional initiatives in place to reduce fraud both in the CNP and wider payment industry context, including ID verification techniques, more advanced fraud screening tools, free security software for consumers and partnerships between banks, interested companies and governmental bodies which aim to monitor, advise on and implement new fraud-fighting strategies. [6]


  1. ECommerce News. "The Most Common Payment Methods in Europe"
  2. Expert Market "Online Payment Methods Around the World."
  3. ECommerce News. "UK."
  4. eCommerce Worldwide. United Kingdom Country Guide. "eCommerce in the United Kingdom"
  5. Adyen. Global E-Commerce Payments Guide. 2015.
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Facebook (44M users)

Most Popular Payment Method:

Credit Cards (40%)

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