Mastering Online Payment: The Key to Expanding Your Business in Germany, The Middle East, and Russia

Adapting to meet local customer expectations and demand matters. Research shows that online payment behaviour is influenced by individual habits as well as national cultural norms. For the visitors of your website to have a good user experience, you should provide the right payment options. Countries or regions such as Germany, Russia or The Middle East have different approaches when it comes to online purchasing. Targeting the right means of payment can be a key factor to ensure successful market entry.


Paying by cash is deeply ingrained in German culture. According to Deutsche Bank, 88% of the Germans prefer using cash to credit card, because it enables them to control personal spending and keep their anonymity. In 2017, a Statista survey showed that 43% of the population still did not use debit or credit cards to make online purchases. Open Invoice and internet payment systems such as Paypal are more popular. With the Open Invoice system, consumers can order several items online and only pay for the ones they keep up to 28 days later. Yet, few foreign retailers offer this. Klarna, a Swedish online payment service is a good alternative since it has three options: pay by card directly at checkout, spread the cost of a purchase through monthly instalments but foremost, try first and pay later.

Middle East

Credit card has not been fully adopted yet by different countries in this region: Kuwait (97%), UAE (89%) while Saudi Arabia and Qatar were both at 45% in 2016. Much like in Germany, consumers express concerns about the security and privacy of online payments. This conjugation of factors contributed to the success of cash-on-delivery (COD), which represents 60 to 70% of online payment according to an AT Kearney Study. It remains the preferred method of payment especially for lesser known brands and independent stores because it enables users to see the products before paying for them. CashU is another alternative to paying online in Middle Eastern and North African countries which is very popular among young people. Users top up this prepaid payment card with cash before making a purchase.


Cash also remains the predominant means of payment in Russia. Indeed, the value fluctuation of the ruble has left its mark on Russian payment habits. This explains why, similarly to the Middle East, cash-on-delivery is also a popular online payment option, amongst others. According to a TNS survey, Russians also use different methods of payment based on whether they live rurally or in more urban areas, as well as what it is they are purchasing. They can choose between bankcards, e-wallets such as PayPal, Yandex Money or Qiwi, and payment via SMS. However, cash-on-delivery remains the top choice with 68% using it for online shopping, despite a slight decline since 2013. Russians like to ensure that what they are ordering will be of good quality, and reliably delivered before making payments.

As a foreign retailer, offering payment methods suited to the domestic market you’re targeting can be a competitive advantage. If you’re a new entrant, it can only reinforce the trust between the consumer and your brand. Therefore, it can increase chances of conversion and business success.