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This paper presents a cross-country comparison of Internet payment systems. It compares countries within the European Union, and the EU with the United States.

The key concept of our approach is that of "payment culture", which consists basically of the payment behaviour of payers and payees and the regulatory framework (political and legal).

Findings of the comparison among EU countries:
1-There are clearly distinguishable payment cultures within Europe. Some of the payment options important in one group of countries are hardly used in others.

2-There are also common trends within the EU, such as the gradual death of "thick wallet" based payment systems and a trend towards a server-based approach, the rapid spread of "virtual dedicated accounts" (including scratch cards) and mobile payments and the overall relatively strong smart card orientation.

3-When it comes to cross-border payments, credit cards are crucial. However, other payment methods like prepaid dedicated accounts or payments via mobile phone can be applied for the same purpose.

Findings of the comparison of EU countries with the United States:
There are interesting similarities between the EU and the US, but in contrast to the EU, the US approach to regulation focuses more on transactions (like payments) than on institutions (like banks). As regards the integration of the payment area, the US seems to be less concerned about full integration of payment systems and full interoperability than the EU.

Background Paper No. 3
Electronic Payment Systems Observatory ms Observatory

Additional information

Authors: BÖHLE K, JRC Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Seville (ES);KRUEGER M, JRC Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Seville (ES)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 19936 EN (2001), pp. 86. Euro: Free of charge
Availability: Available from European Commission, JRC Knowledge Management Unit, Ispra (IT) Tel: +39 033278 9843 or +39 033278 9864 Fax: +39 033278 9623 E-mail:
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