[Germany] IoT, smart city and digital payments are still uncharted territory for most Germans

Only 20 percent of German consumers are confident enough to give a definition of the Internet of Things (IoT). Only 25 percent can define the term "smart city," according to a recent representative survey* commissioned by Utimaco. The majority of respondents also remain technology skeptical when it comes to the use of smart home devices and digital payment.

Aachen, July 5, 2022 – The majority of German consumers are still not very familiar with the terms "IoT" and "smart city". Only one-fifth and one-quarter respectively are confident of a definition, as Utimaco, a leading global provider of IT security solutions, determined in a recent survey*. Smart home devices are used by only 30 percent of citizens in this country. Mobile payment is preferred by only 16 percent of respondents. Cash (42 percent) and card payments (20 percent) dominate payment solutions.

Networked world, unknown world?

93 percent of Germans use the Internet** - which means it is no longer uncharted territory. IoT and smart cities - concepts that have long been commonplace in the tech world - are, on the other hand, not yet universally known among the general population. Only a few German consumers feel able to give a definition of the two terms. Consequently, only 16 percent of respondents also state that they actively use the IoT. Less than a third (30 percent) have equipped their own homes with smart devices. By contrast, the average for all countries surveyed is noticeably higher: 26 percent IoT use and 38 percent smart home use (the survey was also conducted in Spain, the UK, Singapore, Mexico and the USA). When Germans do use smart home devices, it is smart TVs (52 percent), virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home (51 percent) or - unsurprisingly given last year's energy crisis - devices for saving energy such as networked thermostats, lighting, etc. (47 percent).

Of those respondents who do not use smart home devices, a slim majority of 51 percent say they see no need for them. However, 30 percent also say they do not trust these devices, and 28 percent say they have already been victims of hacking, identity theft or data loss via these devices. 43 percent of all respondents in Germany believe that manufacturers need to do more to secure their devices.

Cash remains dominant

Among German respondents, cash is still the most popular means of payment. 42 percent say they prefer to pay with bills and coins. Card payments follow in second place with 20 percent, and mobile payments land in third place with 16 percent. When it comes to the question of the most secure payment method, cash dominates even more clearly in Germany: 59 percent of respondents in this country consider this payment option to be the most secure. Unsurprisingly, this is where the biggest differences to the other countries in which the survey was conducted emerge: Globally, cards are the most popular payment method (32 percent). As far as the security of payment methods is concerned, cash is also named first in most of the other countries surveyed, albeit with considerably less agreement than in Germany. Internationally, 36 percent consider cash to be the most secure method. Far behind, also in an international comparison, are cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.

Trust on the Net generally capable of improvement

In general, there still seems to be a lot of uncertainty surrounding the use of digital technologies in Germany. For example, 39 percent of the Germans surveyed say they do not know what information is collected about them when they use them. Compared with the other countries surveyed, this is the highest figure, while the average for all respondents in six countries is 27 percent.

Overall, 69 percent of German citizens are concerned about the security of their data when they use digital services. 31 percent of Germans have also already been victims of data loss, identity theft or online fraud (with and without direct damage). A further 16 percent cannot say whether they have ever been affected.

"It's not just the well-known preference for cash, but elsewhere we see that Germans seem to be less open to new technologies than consumers in other major markets. Among the reasons we can identify are concerns about data security and a lack of trust in new technologies," says Stefan Auerbach, CEO of Utimaco. "Against the background that digitization in this country is considered to be faltering anyway, these figures are worrying. We need more openness to technology in Germany, too, in order not to be left behind in the competition of the digital economy. Sound knowledge and reliable standards certainly play a decisive role here. In order to really trust a technology, citizens must have an understanding of the security measures and regulations in the background. As an IT security and trust provider, I believe we have a duty to educate people about security and trust in the digital world. The education system is also called upon here to get students excited about technology at a young age, but also to prepare them for the challenges of the digital world."

All results of the international Utimaco study are presented in detail in a white paper, which is available for free download here.


* YouGov surveyed a total of 6,382 people in Germany (1,056), Spain (1,056), the United Kingdom (1,058), the United States (1,054), Mexico (1,063), and Singapore (1,075) on behalf of Utimaco between April 3 and April 6, 2023. Results were weighted and are representative of the respective country's population aged 18+.
** Digital Index 2022/2023, Initiative D21




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