Benchmarking the EU’s Digital Engagement: France

France, digital transformation, CE Index

In this final installment of PYMNTS’ five-part series on digital transformation in the European Union, we focus on France and its digital engagement compared to the other EU-5 countries (Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain) surveyed in the “Benchmarking The World’s Digital Transformation” report.

Read the report: Benchmarking World’s Digital Transformation

With a ConnectedEconomy™ Index (CE Index) score of just 23.9, France emerged the least digitally engaged population among the EU countries — and when all the 11 countries studied are taken into consideration, France scored the second-lowest CE Index, only behind Japan.

See Part 1: Benchmarking the EU’s Digital Engagement: Spain

See Part 2: Benchmarking the EU’s Digital Engagement: the Netherlands

See Part 3: Benchmarking the EU’s Digital Engagement: Germany

See Part 4: Benchmarking the EU’s Digital Engagement: Italy

In France, the percentage of the surveyed population that reported having a regular internet connection was 83.3%, the second-lowest in Europe but still a good six percentage points above Italy.

While that contributes to the country’s overall poor CE Index score, low internet access alone cannot explain the 23.9 CE Index. Brazil, for example, with 26.1% of the population reporting no internet connection, still scored a CE Index score of 30.1, higher than any EU nation except Spain.

Aside from the unconnected proportion of the French population, 43.6% reported a low level of digital engagement, 23.7% a medium level and 16.0% a high level of engagement.

In terms of digital engagement by generation, once again France mirrors Italy in the shape of its engagement distribution.

The report found that among Gen Zs, France has a slightly higher CE Index than Italy (40 vs. 36). The same was observed among millenials (35 vs. 34), and bridge millenials (31 vs. 30).

Regarding older generations, the trend is reversed, with Italians in the Gen X, baby boomer and senior age groups reporting a higher CE Index score than their French peers. In this oldest group, French respondents scored just 13 to Italy’s 17.

The lower levels of digital engagement observed among French people over the age of 42 helps to explain why France scores lower overall than Italy in the CE Index. One of the key findings of the report is that low uptake of digital technologies among older people drives a country’s CE Index score down and is an indicator of slow digital transformation.

Looking at the way French consumers shop online, France has the highest preference for card payments of any country for which PYMNTS collected data. About 65% of all online transactions recorded in the country were card-based, while this figure increased to 74.9% with in-store transactions.

Both online and in-store, PayPal is France’s preferred digital wallet. This preference is also observed in Spain and to a much greater extent in Germany.

Previous studies of French spending habits have highlighted the country’s general aversion to debt. For example, a general inclination toward debit, as opposed to credit cards, has often been observed.

Additionally, the debt-averse nature of French consumers is reflected in the fact that the country shows the lowest usage of the buy now, pay later (BNPL) solution as an eCommerce instrument of all 11 countries included in the report.


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