Spain Leads EU’s Digital Transformation but In-Store Payments Lag Behind

digital transformation

Spain continues to outperform its EU peers in terms of digital engagement.

As revealed in PYMNTS’ latest Connected Economy report, “How The World Does Digital: Different Paths To Digital Transformation,” 91.9% of Spanish consumers reported participating in at least one digital activity in the previous 30 days, up from 91.5% in the second quarter (Q2) of 2022 — the second highest level reported globally after the U.K.

The report, a PYMNTS and Stripe collaboration, also shows that globally, consumers are increasing the frequency with which they engage in digital activities, although the overall trend varies by country and specific activity measured.

In Spain, for example, a slight dip in the average number of activities people engage in daily was observed in Q3. At 3.5 activities per day, the figure is less than the 3.6 reported in Q2 but still higher than the 3.4 reported in Q1.

When it comes to monthly engagement, however, Spain and Italy are the only two countries where consistent quarterly increases have been observed. In Q3, Spanish consumers conducted on average 6.8 digital activities per month, up from 6.3 and 6.5 in the first two quarters.

Engagement in Transactional Activities

Spain has also bucked the global trend in declining engagement in transactional activities.

PYMNTS tracks 19 such activities, which relate to banking, shopping and paying for services, and combines survey data on transactional activities to create a transactional index score to measure overall engagement.

As the world rebounded from pandemic-era disruptions, the report notes that many of these changes can be put down to consumers returning to shopping and paying in person and the world’s transactional index fell 0.2% compared to Q2.

But in Spain, the picture is more complicated.

While the global index score for transactional activities remained steady from Q1 to Q2, before dipping slightly in Q3, Spain has followed a different pattern. After falling in the second quarter, the country experienced a resurgence in transactional engagement in the third quarter, hitting a score of 26.6, the highest of any European country.

This rise was fueled by strong growth in online digital wallet usage. Of those surveyed, nearly a third (29.3%) said that they paid for their last online purchase with a mobile wallet, following consistent quarterly increases.

Interestingly, looking at in-store transactions only, the overall trajectory of Spain’s transactional behavior is inverted. After increasing from 12.7% to 13.8% in the second quarter, the share of in-store payments made using a mobile wallet fell to 11.9%.

The recent decrease is bad news for one of Spain’s most popular mobile wallets — Bizum.

As Bizum Business Development Director Fernando Rodriguez told PYMNTS in an interview, although the mobile payment system boasts over 22 million users, adoption has been largely limited to eCommerce and peer-to-peer transactions

“We are doing fine in eCommerce but we still have the challenge of competing with cash,” he said.

Overall, Spain sits alongside the Netherlands and France at the back of the table for in-person mobile payments. This suggests a strong preference for cash and card in these countries and points to culturally embedded preferences that companies like Bizum will need to overcome if they want to crack the in-store payments market.

For all PYMNTS EMEA coverage, subscribe to the daily EMEA Newsletter.