Digital EC cards to make online shopping in Germany easier

Digital EC cards to make online shopping in Germany easier

Most people who open a bank account in Germany get a Girocard (sometimes called an Electronic Cash or EC card). While the Girocard is the most universally accepted card payment in Germany, its major disadvantage is that it cannot be used online - but a new digital EC card is about to change that. 

Girocard going digital to support online payments

Unlike standard debit cards and credit cards, the Girocard cannot normally be used to shop via the internet. To solve this issue, several years ago a consortium of German banks joined forces to create the online payments service Giropay, which lets you link your bank account to an online wallet and use that for shopping. 

However, the service hasn’t exactly been a success: around 7,5 million people used Giropay in 2021, according to figures from the banking sector, covering just 2 percent of the German market for online payments. Compare this to the 29 million active customers that PayPal has in Germany. 

To try to compete with the heavy hitters - and make things a little easier for customers in Germany - Giropay is creating a digital version of the EC card that can be added to people’s digital wallets and used for shopping online. 

This gives shoppers a secure and convenient way of paying for their purchases online, without having to connect their bank account details or use a service like PayPal, Apple Pay or G Pay. It would also allow shoppers to use their cards abroad with international merchants that support Giropay. 

First digital EC cards to be rolled out in 2022

“The contractual and technical foundations for the integration of the digital Girocard are currently being created,” the German Banking Industry Committee told dpa. “The integration of the Girocard as a further access route to the online payment method Giropay should start in the second half of the year.” 

The first digital EC cards are set to be rolled out to customers of Volksbank and Raiffeisenbanken by the end of the year, with other major banks set to follow by the end of 2022. “Almost the entire German banking industry with a total of around 1.500 banks and saving banks” is involved in the scheme, according to the committee. 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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