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Bulgarian retailers embrace digital payments

By Krassimira Raycheva, Country Lead Bulgaria • Visa Europe

April 19, 2016

We have been looking at how the evolving world of retail is characterised by new formats and models (both in-store and online),as well as the needs and wants of the consumer through local market events across Europe. In this series of #ShoppingFutures articles we explore retail innovation and what this means for payments.

Although all the necessary prerequisites for digital payments to thrive in Bulgaria are coming together – technology, big players, consumer demand, partnerships and investments, some challenges remain

We live in a digital world. More and more consumer activities nowadays take place in the digital space, which imposes the need for new and improved payment solutions. However, a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t appropriate for payments, and consumer communications are essential. That was one of the main messages from a special thought leadership discussion held on the 16th March at Hilton Sofia Hotel with key Bulgarian ecosystem players including merchants, tech companies, telecomm giants and other stakeholders.

The electronic payments market in Bulgaria has seen steady growth over the last few years. One of the core trends which Visa has observed in Bulgaria is that consumers are using their bank cards both for big shopping activities and small everyday purchases. The evidence for this is the total consumer POS spend on Visa cards, issued by Bulgarian banks and financial institutions, which rose by 18% in 2015, according to Visa Europe’s annual results for Bulgaria.

However, Bulgarian customers still have some doubts about paying with a card, which is one of the main barriers to e-payments becoming even more widely accepted.

The commercial director of the biggest cinema and restaurant chains in the country stressed the importance of marketing and communications to success for any payment-related initiative: he gave an example of how, with Visa’s help, clients had been convinced to use their cards more often when they pay, by raising awareness of card payments’ benefits, and thereby increasing consumer confidence in the technology.

Based on our sound business results and the feedback received during the discussion, Visa in Bulgaria and its member banks will continue to work hard to achieve the needed market maturity to continue to build a digital ecosystem and offer innovative services.

Following this event, we can say undoubtedly that contactless technology that is gathering momentum across Bulgaria, and that consumers and business are ready to welcome the next cutting-edge Visa payment services and products.

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