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The Sustainability of Romanian Online Payment Trends in 2023

No payment system comes without some form of environmental cost. Though usually small on an individual scale, the number of transactions performed every day eventually adds up. As one of the most progressive CEE countries when it comes to online payment systems, Romania is setting trends in sustainability that others could soon follow.

Taking a look at the popular payment methods and their associated environmental costs, we want to examine the advantages of online methods and determine where Romania excels. From online services to e-commerce, the potential advantages of the new digital approach are immense, and they’re only growing bigger.

The Costs of Different Systems

Major issues with the sustainability of traditional payment systems come from the likes of cash, paper receipts, and plastic payment cards. Depending on construction materials, cash can cause issues through the production of foil and ink, but it’s the transportation and handling of cash that causes the greatest environmental impacts.

Credit cards are usually made from non-biodegradable PVC. With billions in circulation, each outdated card becomes an issue of environmental waste. Paper receipts are also a considerable issue, with a report from Climate Action stating that this waste in the US alone costs over 3 million trees and 9 billion gallons of water while producing 4 billion pounds of CO2.

Online options such as PayPal and Google Pay can return digital receipts, they don’t use plastic or paper and often can tie into existing digital devices. Though they can indirectly imply server electricity costs, these can be minimised significantly through the use of clean energy, a target to which the developed world is increasingly heading.

Use in Romania

A regional study performed by Visa in 2022 reveals that Romanians have the highest rates of phone payments in the eight CEE countries. These cashless habits have quickly become the favourites of the growing online purchase market, with 83% of Romanian consumers using their phones to search for goods and services.

In the service space, this is illustrated by the growth of digital industries, with casino popularity continuing to grow. Titles like Big Bass Splash and Book of Dead offer the same level of gameplay as physical casinos, but by operating digitally and with digital payment methods, they offer a greater level of sustainability. There are no travel costs associated with digital casinos, and no material waste, making them a greener and more convenient option over the traditional.

ECommerce has also seen significant growth in Romania recently, again reducing the reliance and environmental cost of traditional purchasing methods. As of 2023, Romania is the 43rd largest market for eCommerce, with a predicted revenue this year of US$6,751 million. Operating on a 13.2% CAGR from 2023-2027, and combined with more environmentally friendly shipping options, Romania is again improving standards on sustainability via online payment systems.

Though it’s unlikely the future will ever forgo cash, credit cards, and paper receipts, a greater reliance on online payment options as demonstrated by Romania is helping bring sustainability forward. As what will hopefully become a new normal, the implications for the future could be immense, and well worth considering making a change for those currently sticking to traditional payment methods.


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