Cashless Craze in Germany

July 2020

Interest in contactless payment solutions has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic. A survey by digitalization promotion agency Bitkom found that 75 percent of Germans try to pay for things without cash and 71 percent wish there was more opportunities to do so.

Hamburg metro regional start-up KOALA is one of the companies hoping to profit from this trend.

The company has developed an app allowing customers to scan the prices of items themselves when they take them down from shelves. That allows shoppers to skip waiting in line at check-out counters.

The KOALA app is currently being tried out at four supermarkets in Hamburg and the surrounding area. It was downloaded more than 5000 times in the first months of the trial, the company said.

The company expects to have a full roll-out this year and expects self-scanning to become widely accepted in Germany by 2023.

“We rely on the ‘a-ha!’ effect, when customers queueing in the slow lane watch how customers in the fast lane simply log off and leave without wasting time,” KOALA co-founder Christoph Schönfelder told the online platform Hamburg News.

Germany’s federal bank, the Bundesbank, found in a recent study that contactless payment was quicker than using either cash or cards with passwords and signatures.

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