EOS survey shows: Europeans are paying more punctually, but companies are more skeptical about the future

  • Payment practices continue to improve, with 81 percent of all invoices being paid on time
  • But future outlook more pessimistic than of late
  • Consumers more reliable payers than business customers

Hamburg, September 9, 2019 – Payment practices in Europe have continued to improve in both the B2C and B2B segments, with 81 percent of all invoices currently being paid on time. Five years ago it was just 75 percent. In Eastern Europe, four out of five payments arrive on time (80 percent); in Western Europe it’s as much as 83 percent. Punctual payment is especially high in Russia, where 89 percent of all receivables are paid on time, followed by Germany (86 percent) and Denmark (85 percent). In Europe, Slovakia (76 percent), Bulgaria and Greece (each 77 percent) are bringing up the rear for punctuality. The representative survey “European Payment Practices” 2019, conducted on behalf of financial services provider EOS, polled 3,400 companies in 17 European countries.

The outlook is gloomy – is the tide about to turn for payment practices?

Despite the ongoing positive trend in payment practices, European companies are meanwhile looking skeptically to the future. Only 22 percent expect a significant improvement in payment practices in the next two years; in 2018 the figure was 24 percent. On the other hand, 15 percent of those polled expect things to get worse; that’s an increase of two percent compared with the previous year. In Western Europe, companies from Germany and the UK are particularly negative about the future. In Eastern Europe, it is primarily companies from Russia and Slovenia that assume an adverse trend.

“The survey confirms what many current economic forecasts are also showing: the mood in the European economy is no longer as optimistic as it has been in recent years,” says Klaus Engberding, CEO of the EOS Group. “In the UK, a possible no-deal Brexit is dampening expectations, and in Germany the negative economic outlook in particular is having an impact on morale. If global trade disputes are further exacerbated, a decline in payment levels in Europe can be expected as early as next year.”

Five-year trend: payment terms in Europe were reduced and payment practices improved ...

  2019 2014
Average payment term 33 days 37 days
Receivables paid on time 81% 75%
Receivables paid late or unrecoverable 19% 25%


… but how long will the trend continue?

  2019 2018

“Payment practices will generally/significantly improve in the next two years”

22% 24%

“Payment practices will generally/significantly deteriorate in the next two years.”

15% 13%


Majority still dispenses with outside support for receivables management

In Europe, companies getting professional support with their receivables management are still in the minority. Just four out of ten companies (42 percent) work with external service providers to recover outstanding debts. “With a view to a potentially depressed economic climate in particular, those companies not already doing so should professionalize their receivables management to a greater extent and look at working with external collection providers, to keep their cash flows stable in the event of a possible decline in the level of payments,” says Engberding.

Consumers more reliable payers than companies

As the EOS Survey shows, European companies set their customers an average payment term of 33 days; five years ago they were allowed four days more. Whereas in 84 percent of cases consumers and private customers meet this deadline, only 79 percent of companies manage to do so. The main reasons for payment delays cited by the respondents were primarily cash flow problems in the B2C segment (57 percent) and in the B2B segment, outstanding payments by a customer’s own clients (55 percent) and the use of supplier credits (51 percent).

Please find further information in our EOS newsroom.


About the EOS Survey “European Payment Practices” 2019

In partnership with independent market research institute Kantar, EOS conducted phone interviews with 3,400 companies in 17 European countries to ask them about the prevailing payment practices in their respective locations. In the spring of 2019, 200 companies with an annual turnover of more than EUR 5 million in each of the countries Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK answered questions about their own payment experiences and current issues relating to risk and receivables management. The annual survey has now been conducted by EOS no less than 12 times.

About EOS Group

EOS Group is a leading international provider of customized financial services. As a specialist in the evaluation and processing of receivables, EOS deploys new technologies to offer its some 20,000 customers in 26 countries financial security through smart services. The company’s core business is the purchase of unsecured and secured debt portfolios. Working within an international network of partner companies, EOS Group has a workforce of more than 7,500 and over 60 subsidiaries, so it can access resources in more than 180 countries. Its key target sectors are banking, utilities, real estate and e-commerce. EOS is part of Otto Group.


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