Despite a selection of headlines to the contrary, bricks-and-mortar is still relevant to the digital payments consumer, although not in the traditional sense, says Visa’s 2016 Digital Payments Study.

The study, for which Visa surveyed more than 36,000 online consumers in 19 European countries, says this is in addition to the number of Europeans regularly using a mobile device – a smartphone, tablet or wearable – for payments having tripled since 2015.

It notes that “showrooming” – the act of seeing an item in-store before purchasing online – is an overwhelmingly popular shopping method for nearly seven in 10 (69%) consumers to choose for the purchase of medium to high-value items particularly in the UK (80%).

Kevin Jenkins, UK & Ireland Managing Director at Visa, says:

“In Europe, we’ve recently seen Apple Pay launched in the UK, France and Switzerland, Samsung Pay has launched in Spain and Android Pay in the UK. We’ve also seen a new era of wearable payments: smartwatches, wristbands and even clothing. It’s clear that this trend will continue to accelerate, enabling consumers to choose the connected device that fits with their lifestyle.”

The rise of contactless payments

The study also tends to address the misconception that digital technologies have been reducing users’ desire for human interaction saying consumers who prefer to buy in-store do so because they enjoy the interaction with staff and ability to see an item in person.

54% of respondents regularly use a mobile device to make payments for a range of activities, compared to just 18% who were asked whether they used mobile payments to pay for everyday goods and services when the same study was conducted last year.

It revealed a shift in consumer adoption of digital payments in the last 12 months from when 38% of the people surveyed said they had never used a mobile device to make payments and had no plans to do so to drop off to 12%.

The future of digital payments has arrived

Two developing markets: Turkey - which tops the list - and Romania are among the ten countries with the highest proportion of mobile payments users according to the survey for their fast leapfrog from traditional payment methods to adopt new technologies.

Others are developed markets – particularly the Nordics – which are evolving to new technologies at differing paces. In the UK, nearly three-quarters (74%) of the people surveyed are mobile payments users and more than half of them use their device to transfer money to friends and family (59%) and just under half use it to buy take-away meals (45%).

“This data is a confirmation that the future of digital payments has arrived, with consumers across the length and breadth of the UK and Europe embracing a variety of new ways to pay,” says Kevin Jenkins, UK & Ireland Managing Director at Visa. “Visa sees smartphones and wearables as the beginning of a broader trend, with millions of new connected devices making it simple, safe and secure to integrate daily commerce transactions into almost any technology.”

Visa commissioned the Digital Payments research with Populus. The research was conducted between August and September 2016 in 19 European countries with total sample size of 36,843 consumers, with approximately 2,000 respondents per country.