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How location impacts recurring payment preferences

How location impacts recurring payment preferences


Faye Duncan


17 Oct 2023

Read time

4 Minutes



Have you ever wondered why some people prefer certain recurring payment options over others? Well, the answer might be closer to home than you think. Location plays a significant role in shaping our recurring payment preferences.

In this blog, we’ll explore how different regions view and choose their recurring payment options, including the challenges of cross-border transactions which are crucial to overcome if your business goals include global expansion.

What’s in this article?

  • Recurring payment options
  • Recurring payment preferences by region  
  • Cross-border recurring payment challenges
  • How does open banking affect recurring payments by location?

Recurring payment options

Recurring payments are automatic, regularly scheduled transactions that make our lives easier. From subscription services like Netflix and Spotify to utility bills and gym memberships, they’ve become an integral part of our financial routines. But, the local payment methods people prefer can vary depending on where they live.

Here’s a list of common recurring payment methods:

Preferred payment method options
  • Credit/debit card payments: The most popular and most simple recurring payment option is made using a card. The cardholder authorises the business to charge their credit or debit card for the specified amount at regular intervals.
  • E-wallets: Mobile wallet apps like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay can store payment information for recurring transactions. Users can set up automatic payments through these apps.
  • Cryptocurrency payments: Some businesses and online services now accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin for recurring payments. Users set up automatic transfers from their crypto wallets.
  • Recurring invoices: Businesses can send recurring invoices to clients, who then make payments using their chosen payment method (e.g. credit card).
  • Direct Debit: Slightly different from a recurring payment, but falls under the same umbrella, are Direct Debits; a bank-based payment method where the payee (e.g., a business or service provider) automatically withdraws funds from the payer’s bank account on a regular basis, with their authorisation.
  • ACH payments: In the United States, Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments are electronic transfers between bank accounts. They are commonly used for recurring transactions such as utility bills and mortgage payments.
  • SEPA payments: Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), similar to ACH, is a payment system that enables electronic money transfers between banks within the EU.
  • Standing orders: A standing order is an instruction given by an account holder to their bank to make regular payments of a specified amount to a particular payee. It’s commonly used for rent or mortgage payments.

These recurring payment options offer flexibility and convenience for both consumers and businesses, catering to a wide range of preferences and needs. It’s advisable to offer more than one payment method, not just for consumer preference, but also in case one payment fails it can fall back on another.

Recurring payment preferences by region 

Each region has its own cultural differences, so it’s no surprise that they will have their own differences when it comes to payments too. For example, some regions may have a stronger preference for traditional banking methods due to a historical trust in banks, while others may embrace newer fintech solutions due to a culture of innovation.

These preferences can make all the difference in whether a region will adopt or reject the latest trends and technologies.

On top of that, each region will have its own security procedures. For example, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has influenced consumer payment preferences by emphasising data protection and privacy.

Mobile checkout setting up a recurring payment

To give you a few examples, let’s take a look at the recurring payment preferences for the UK, UAE and Europe according to a YouGov survey.

Recurring payments in the UK         

In the United Kingdom, debit cards are the recurring payment method that reigns supreme, even more so than credit cards. They’re simple, reliable and widely accepted. Many Brits prefer this method for everything from paying their rent to supporting their favourite charities. They’re a breeze to set up, and they provide a level of financial control that suits the British sensibility.

Although, that doesn’t mean you should forget other payment methods. APMs like digital wallets, are also very popular, particularly with the younger generation and must be included in your offering.

Recurring payments in the UAE

Now, let’s jet off to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to discuss their preferred payment options. Here, credit card-based recurring payments are quite popular. The UAE is known for its modern, tech-savvy population, and credit cards are the go-to payment method for many. It allows them to enjoy the convenience of recurring payments while earning rewards and cashback on their spending.

Pay by links are also popular, so recurring invoices, allowing them to pay when it’s convenient for them, is something you should consider.

Popular recurring payment options in Europe

Europe is a diverse continent, and payment choices across the different countries can vary. However, in general, Europeans tend to favour SEPA Direct Debits for recurring payments. SEPA makes it easy to set up automated payments across Eurozone countries, eliminating the need for different bank accounts and payment methods for each country.

Cross-border recurring payment challenges

Cross-border recurring payments can be a bit of a headache. When you’re dealing with different currencies, time zones and financial regulations, things can get complicated. This often leads to individuals and businesses in one country preferring certain payment methods to avoid the hassle of dealing with international transactions.

Common challenges associated with cross-border recurring payments include:

Currency convertor graph of Euro to Dollar
  • Currency conversion costs: Converting funds from one currency to another can lead to currency exchange fees and unfavourable exchange rates, causing additional expenses for both the customer and the merchant.
  • Fluctuating exchange rates: Exchange rates can fluctuate, impacting the amount transferred and potentially leading to unexpected variations in payment amounts and financial losses.
  • Regulatory compliance: Different countries have varying regulations related to international recurring payments. Ensuring compliance with these regulations can be complex and time-consuming.
  • Bank fees: Banks may charge fees for processing cross-border transactions, which can significantly reduce the amount received by the payee.
  • Payment processing time: Cross-border payments can take longer to process compared to domestic transactions due to additional verification and international banking processes.
  • Lack of standardisation: Lack of uniform standards for cross-border transactions can lead to confusion and errors in payment details, such as account numbers and SWIFT/BIC codes.
  • Data security and privacy: Ensuring the security and privacy of personal and financial data becomes more challenging when dealing with international payments and compliance with different data protection laws.
  • Limited payment methods: Not all payment methods are available for cross-border transactions, limiting the options for your customers.
  • Communication barriers: Language differences, time zones and communication challenges can complicate the resolution of payment issues or disputes.
  • Bank holidays: Different countries have varying public holidays, which can disrupt payment processing schedules.
  • Tax implications: Cross-border payments may have tax implications in both the customer’s and business’s countries, requiring compliance with tax regulations.
  • Customer support and dispute resolution: Accessing customer support or resolving payment disputes can be more challenging when dealing with international service providers or banks.

How to combat these challenges

Although it may seem like there are a lot of challenges when it comes to cross-border transactions, there is a simple solution; use local acquirers. By using acquirers based in the countries you want to process in, you can increase approval rates, decrease processing times and limit the amount of fees you’re charged.

But how do you go about achieving this? With the right payment processing service you can easily expand your business to accept global payments. At Total Processing, we offer a multi-acquiring strategy that enables you to connect to a network of hundreds of acquirers. On top of that, we offer more than 198 alternative payment methods, so you can easily let your customers pick their method of choice.

How does open banking affect recurring payments by location?

Location is not the only factor influencing recurring payment preferences; the rise of open banking has also played a significant role in how people manage their finances. It gives us more choices, real-time updates and makes cross-border transactions easier. It’s secure and trusted, but its availability varies by region, with the UK and parts of Europe leading the way.

Understanding how open banking is being embraced in the location you want to expand your business to can significantly impact your recurring payment options. It’s an exciting development that provides enhanced choices and convenience, making it easier for individuals and businesses to manage their finances and automate payments.


Location matters when it comes to recurring payment preferences. The ease and convenience of certain payment methods can be a game-changer, and people tend to stick with what works best in their region. Whether it’s the simplicity of Direct Debit in the UK, credit cards in the UAE or SEPA Direct Debits in Europe, location shapes your customer’s payment habits.

So, the next time you’re pondering how to improve your recurring payments solution, take a moment to consider where you’re processing. Your location might just hold the key to the most convenient and hassle-free payment method for you. And if you’re ready to optimise your recurring payment package, why not get in touch and we’ll see how we can help you expand internationally.

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