Why digital receipts are not yet standard.
Hannover. 06.01.2021. One year after the introduction of the “Cash Act for More Tax Justice” in Germany, sustainable digital alternatives are available, but not yet standard. Corona pandemic, lack of awareness and partial action inhibit the success of digital receipts in Germany. The startups epap, Flux and Receipthero on the challenges and what Germany can learn from England and Finland.
On 1 January 2020, the so-called receipt issuance obligation was introduced in Germany, which obliges retailers and gastronomy to create a receipt for every transaction and offer it to the customer. The technical security unit (TSE) also had to be integrated by the end of September.
Four million kilometres of “Receipt Flood”
This requirement not only ensured controllable tax information, but above all thousands of kilometres of receipt paper. Because even if customers do not want their receipt, it still has to be printed. “Ecologically speaking, this is a disaster,” comments Fabian Gruß, Co-Founder and CEO of epap. “A large proportion of printed receipts end up in the trash immediately after printing. With an average receipt length of 20 centimetres and 20 billion purchases per year, we print four million kilometres of receipt paper or 13,423 trees annually.”
Retailer’s own solutions not practicable
The first well-known retail chains such as Rewe, Edeka or IKEA introduced digital receipts this year. In order to receive them, customers usually have to fulfil numerous requirements: install the in-house app, link the Payback card or make mobile payments. “Of course, we very much welcome this move towards sustainable alternatives. However, the retailers’ own solutions usually contain high barriers that customers have to overcome in order to receive their receipts digitally. Installing an app for every shop is not very practical,” notes Gruß.
User-friendliness as the key to acceptance
To bring digital receipts together in one place and offer customers added value for their personal finances, epap integrates receipts from already more than 5,000 points of sale in the app of the same name. “We are convinced that digital receipts are only accepted if they do not mean a significant additional effort compared to paper receipts. Our users regularly tell us what is important to them: saving receipt paper, maximum data protection, ease of use and the highest possible coverage of participating shops. Many do not trust linked solutions that run via Payback, for example,” explains Gruß.
Corona pandemic boosts demand for contactless solutions.
Similar experiences are shared by the British start-up Flux and the Finnish digital receipt provider Receipthero. Both link the issuing of digital receipts at participating partners with the customer’s bank card. An additional app for the receipts is no longer necessary. Matty Cusden-Ross, CEO and founder of Flux justifies this approach as follows: “We’ve always found it crazy that payment technology is so cutting edge, but then the till spits out a receipt which mostly ends up in the bin.” In the UK, they have already managed to win retail giants like H&M as partners. For the last year, Flux reported around 35,000 connected tills in the UK and 3.5 million digital receipts issued. Flux attributes this success to an increased demand for contactless in-store experiences, citing a Bank of England study that found two-thirds of customers actively seek contactless payment options.
Finnish government supports integration of digital receipts.
The Finnish digital receipt start-up, ReceiptHero, already generates four million digital receipts per month at 2,000 connected cash registers at well-known customers such as the largest Finnish convenience chain R-Kioski or the Neste petrol stations. The driving force behind this success has also been the Finnish government, which, as part of an initiative together with ReceiptHero, has digitised the expenses of its employees and is encouraging larger companies to also integrate digital receipts. “For merchants across Finland, this is a wake-up call to be more accepting of technological advances like digital receipts,” comments Joel Ojala, CEO of Receipthero.
Germany hesitates on nationwide solutions
In Germany, no nationwide solution for digital receipts has been able to establish itself, yet. epap attributes this on the one hand to a fundamental scepticism towards solutions from start-ups, but also to a lack of awareness of the advantages of digital receipts. “This is currently our biggest challenge,” says Gruß, “many potential users are waiting for a higher availability of digital receipts, potential partners in turn for increased demand from their customers.”
Digital receipts reduce contacts at the point of sale.
The Corona pandemic also inhibited the optimistic attitude in retail and hospitality towards digital receipts at the beginning of last year by forcing to prioritise and secure their existence. At the same time, Flux and Receipthero also note accelerated action awareness to reduce factual contacts at the point of sale through digital receipts. “By the end of the year, German retailers have also recognised the potential for secure, contact-reduced purchasing and are again beginning to actively seek digital solutions. This makes us optimistic about further establishing digital receipts in Germany in the coming year,” Gruß concludes.
Digital receipts in 2021
For the coming year, epap is also planning to integrate a banking function that will allow digital receipts to be linked to the personal bank account. “Flux and ReceiptHero show that such a combination offers significant added value for customers. A benefit that we naturally don’t want to deprive our users of.”
epap was founded in Hanover in February 2020 by Fabian Gruß, Jannis Dust, Gerd Trang and Sebastian Berger with the mission of replacing conventional till receipts with a digital alternative. Since the launch of the associated app in autumn 2019, the number of users, cooperating POS systems and retailers as well as the number of epaps created has been steadily increasing. Currently, the benchmarks are close to 200,000 digital and scanned receipts, around 5,000 connected POS systems and soon 26,000 users. In addition to the creation and management of digital receipts, epap supports the users as a digital budget book through a granular evaluation of the receipts.
Further information on the epap website.
Flux is a digital receipt data platform that provides seamless digital receipts for customers and valuable item-level insights for retailers. Since 2016, the UK startup has created more than 3.3 million digital receipts. The digital receipts are available in over 33,000 shops across the UK, including H&M, Just Eat, KFC and schuh.
Customers of Barclays, Starling Bank and Monzo will automatically receive digital receipts in their banking app when they shop at participating partners.
More information in the Flux Newsroom.
ReceiptHero makes the plumbing that connects merchants’ electronic cash registers and payment terminals to the customers’ bank cards. Digital receipts are sent to banking apps and accounting software in real time.Notable partners of ReceiptHero include Nordea, SEB, Verifone, Worldline, Diebold Nixdorf and CGI.
More information on the ReceiptHero website.