Introduction to Poland

An overview of the UK's currency, population and key statistics.

Cash currency

The currency of Poland is the Polish złoty, denoted as PLN, which is subdivided into 100 smaller units called groszy. Coins are available in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 groszy, and 1, 2, and 5 złoty. Banknotes are available in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 złoty. The images on the banknotes and coins depict notable Polish monarchs, politicians, and historical symbols, reflecting Poland's rich history and cultural heritage.

Digital currency

Poland does not have a central bank digital currency (CBDC). While many countries are actively researching, developing, piloting, or launching CBDCs, Poland has not made significant progress on this front. 

Population

Poland had a population of 37,846,611 in mid-2020, according to the United Nations. The country's population was estimated at 37,822,671 in 2021, with the majority (60.2%) residing in urban areas, primarily in Warsaw. The average age of the population was 41.7 years. Poland's population was expected to be around 41,026,067 by the middle of 2023, representing a 2.93% increase from 2022.

Languages

Poland’s official language is Polish, a Slavic language primarily spoken within the country and by Polish communities abroad. Although Polish is the sole official language used in government and education, English is widely studied and understood, especially among younger people and professionals. It is the most commonly spoken foreign language in Poland. Other languages, such as German, French, and Spanish, are also popular.

Key statistics

Poland experienced significant economic growth in 2022, with the gross domestic product expanding by 4.4%. However, growth is expected to decrease sharply in 2023, with projections indicating a rise of only 0.5%; this is significantly lower than the robust growth seen in 2022. The economic scenario in 2023 is further characterised by 0.2% and 2.2% contractions in the first and second quarters, respectively. Despite this, the economy is expected to recover in the second half of 2023, implying a potential revival and stabilisation in Poland's economic trajectory.

Internet & mobile phone trends

Poland reported significant internet and mobile phone usage statistics in 2023. There were approximately 36.68 million internet users in January, representing an internet penetration rate of 88.4%. The number of internet users in Poland increased by around 2.9 million or 8.5% from 2022 to 2023. Furthermore, the average browser application download speed of Polish internet providers reached 109.2 megabits per second in 2023.

E-commerce statistics

Poland's e-commerce sector is expected to generate significant revenue in 2023, with projections of $14.45 billion. The sector is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.26% to $21.36 billion from 2023 to 2027. User engagement is also expected to increase, with the user count anticipated to reach 21.8 million by 2027.

E-commerce is booming in Poland. User penetration is expected to increase from 53.5% in 2023 to 55.8% in 2027. The average revenue per user is also expected to increase, potentially reaching $657.90. E-commerce is expected to account for 20% of retail sales in Poland by 2023, reflecting the sector's growth. The number of registered e-commerce stores, which was at around 58,000 in 2022, was also expected to increase in 2023. 

Summary of fiscal policy

Poland's fiscal policy is distinguished by several distinguishing features and faces numerous challenges in 2023. The government is pursuing a policy of budgetary expansion, despite a recommendation by the International Monetary Fund to exercise caution and avoid excessive fiscal expansion due to high inflation. The slowing economy is expected to increase the fiscal deficit to 4.5% of GDP in 2023, but the IMF advises against policy-driven fiscal easing unless significant downside risks emerge.

 The general government deficit expanded to 3.7% of GDP in 2022 from 1.8% in 2021, while the debt level decreased to 50% of GDP. Over the medium term, the government expects to stabilise the deficit at around 3.5% of GDP, with debt likely to rise to approximately 55%. Interestingly, there was a fiscal outperformance in 2021, with the deficit shrinking to 1.9% of GDP, significantly lower than the official target of 5.3%. This was driven by stronger-than-anticipated nominal GDP growth. Fiscal policy is poised to be more relaxed in 2023 due to the need to manage high inflation and extend support to Ukrainian refugees.

 Poland's fiscal policy trajectory for 2023 is fraught with difficulties. Persistently high inflation, which is expected to moderate to 8.2%, will place Poland among the top three EU countries in terms of this metric. The upcoming elections in 2023 complicate matters further, making it increasingly difficult for the government to reverse anti-inflationary policies. The fiscal landscape is dominated by high unemployment, rising inflation, and expanding deficits. Furthermore, there is a near-term risk associated with the potential loss of subsidies, as wealthier EU states may impose a long-term budget freeze on the bloc. Lastly, Poland faces a critical decision: whether to adopt the euro amid ongoing struggles in the single currency union to implement fiscal reforms.

How people pay in Poland

An overview of how people in Poland choose to make payments.

Traditional payment methods

The primary traditional payment methods used in Poland

Visa

A Visa credit/debit card is a financial payment card issued by banks or financial institutions. It allows users to make purchases, withdraw cash, and use online and in person. Visa's processing network can handle over 65,000 transaction messages per second.

Mastercard

Mastercard is a worldwide payment network that links financial institutions, merchants, and individuals, facilitating seamless transactions. This renowned company provides a range of credit and debit cards issued through partner banks. Depending on the specific bank, customers may enjoy supplementary benefits such as rewards programs, cashback offers, and insurance coverage.

Przelewy24

Przelewy24 (P24) is a real-time bank transfer payment service available in Poland. It allows customers to use their bank account detailsmake to pay for goods and services online. It is a secure and widely accepted payment method in the country, serving as an intermediary between merchants and customers to ensure seamless transactions. With Przelewy24, customers can conduct transactions without the need for a credit card.

BLIK

BLIK is a Polish payment system that allows users to make secure and convenient online and in-store payments, withdraw cash from ATMs, and perform peer-to-peer transfers, all using their mobile phones. It is integrated with the mobile banking apps of participating banks, enabling users to generate a unique six-digit code that they can use to authorise transactions. BLIK provides a secure and fast way to make payments without using cash or cards. 

 

American Express

American Express cards are a type of payment card provided by the multinational financial services corporation, American Express Company. The Amex card portfolio includes a variety of options, including credit cards, charge cards, and prepaid cards. Amex cards are renowned for their broad acceptance among merchants and offer cardholders access to various advantages, such as perks, rewards programs, travel benefits, and dedicated customer service assistance.

  

Alternative payment methods (APMs)

Alternative payment methods

Skrill

Skrill is a digital payment service and international electronic wallet that allows users to make online transactions, shop online, make in-app purchases, and transfer money to many countries worldwide. Users can add funds to their Skrill wallet using credit/debit cards, bank transfers, or various other payment options, depending on their location.

PayPal

PayPal is a frequently used digital payment system that allows clients to use their PayPal accounts, debit/credit cards, or bank accounts. Customers use PayPal for secure online shopping and to send/receive money.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay, a mobile payment service from Apple Inc., allows users to make in-person, online, and in-app payments. It replaces chip and PIN transactions at contactless terminals.

Google Pay

Google Pay is a digital wallet and payment service developed by Google. It allows users to make secure payments using their mobile devices or computers. It supports various payment methods, offers compatibility across different devices, and provides features like loyalty program integration and transit ticketing. Google Pay prioritises security and convenience with tokenisation and biometric authentication. It has expanded to include digital banking services and continues to evolve.

PayU

PayU Mobile is a digital wallet offered by PayU, an online payment service provider. It allows merchants and consumers to make and receive seamless payments through mobile devices. PayU Mobile is designed to facilitate mobile transactions, offering a secure and user-friendly interface for users to make purchases or pay for services via their smartphones or tablets.

Accepting payments in Poland

A guide to accepting payments in Poland

How to accept online payments in Poland

Before accepting online payments, you must determine which methods you prefer. Then you can choose a payment gateway provider, a service that authorises and processes online payments with their specific system.  

Although there are plenty of payment gateway options in Poland, the general process for online payments typically involves an acquirer, issuer, retailer, and cardholder in the following steps: 

1. The cardholder initiates a payment by presenting their payment card to the retailer to purchase goods or services.

2. The retailer sends the payment details to the acquirer, who processes the payment request and sends it to the payment scheme (such as Mastercard or Visa).

3. The payment scheme sends the payment request to the issuer (such as a bank or licensed issuer) who issued the card to the cardholder.

4. The issuer checks if the cardholder has enough funds to complete the transaction and approves or declines the payment request. If the payment is approved, the issuer sends an authorisation code to the payment scheme.

5. The payment scheme sends the authorisation code to the acquirer, which then sends it to the retailer, completing the transaction.

How long does an international payment from Poland take?

The payment processing time may vary depending on the method and the recipient's bank. For instance, online money transfers through platforms like PayPal can quickly and conveniently send money to multiple destinations.  

  • Bank debit/credit cards: International payments with bank debit or credit cards may take a few minutes to a few hours, depending on bank processing times.

  • Online money transfers: Platforms like PayPal can process international payments within minutes to hours, depending on the service and destination country.

  • Wire transfers: Traditional bank-to-bank transfers or wire may take one to five business days or longer, depending on the destination country, intermediary banks, and transaction requirements.

Fees

Merchant fees

Merchant fees for online payments in Poland can vary depending on the payment method and the merchant services provider used. Here are some examples of typical merchant fees for online payments in Poland:

  •  Credit and debit cards: Merchant fees for accepting online credit and debit card payments can range according to the transaction amount. It also varies depending on the type of card used and the merchant services provider.

  • Bank transfers: Bank transfer fees can vary depending on the bank used, with some banks charging a flat fee per transaction and others charging a percentage of the transaction amount.

 

Other fees

Other fees surrounding online payments in Poland include charges incurred by merchants, payment processors, and financial institutions involved in the payment processing chain. Below are some common fees:

  • Interchange fees: Interchange fees are charges paid by merchants' banks to cardholders' banks to cover the costs of processing card transactions. These fees are usually based on a percentage of the transaction value and can vary depending on the type of card used and the merchant's industry.

  • Payment gateway fees: Payment gateway providers charge a fee for processing transactions on their platform, which may be a percentage of the transaction value or a flat fee per transaction.

  • Cross-border fees: If a merchant accepts payments from customers outside the country, they may be subject to additional fees for cross-border transactions, including currency conversion fees and international processing fees.

  • Merchant discount rate: A processing fee that merchants are charged for transactions made using credit or debit cards. This fee generally falls within 1% to 3% of the total transaction amount.

Security challenges of online payments in Poland

Online payment security is a critical aspect of e-commerce, and it faces several challenges. Various prevalent security threats in online payments encompass merchandise loss and unauthorised and fraudulent transactions. The e-commerce landscape is often marred by friendly fraud, chargebacks, identity theft, and triangulation fraud.

In the context of Poland, consumers' perceptions regarding the security of diverse payment mediums are mixed. In 2022, cash on delivery was perceived as the most secure payment form by four out of ten consumers in Poland, contrasting with virtual wallets which were deemed the least secure. 

To address the challenges of online payment security in Poland, both government and financial institutions need to implement a combination of strategies. Stricter legislation and regulatory compliance standards for online transactions can ensure enhanced data protection and cybersecurity. Technological advancements, such as deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning, can aid in the real-time detection and prevention of fraudulent activities, and the introduction of secure payment technologies like tokenisation and biometric authentication can reinforce payment security. 

Consumer education is crucial, necessitating widespread awareness campaigns about online payment risks and safe practices. Collaborative efforts between various entities can facilitate knowledge and intelligence sharing to counter threats effectively. Moreover, implementing enhanced security protocols, like multi-factor authentication and encryption, can safeguard sensitive data. Lastly, addressing security concerns around emerging payment methods can build consumer confidence in using these technologies, promoting a secure e-commerce environment in Poland.

Key sectors & industries in Poland

According to the US International Trade Administration and other various sources, the top 10 industries in Poland are

Advanced Manufacturing

Poland is emerging as a leading manufacturing hub in Europe, with a growing demand for pioneering and innovative manufacturing technologies. Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, Polish manufacturing has shown remarkable resilience and continued to grow. In 2021, industrial production in Poland increased by 14.8% year-over-year while manufacturing output reached $121.77 billion in 2022, a 7.18% increase from the previous year.

Environmental Technologies

Poland's environmental technologies sector is growing steadily, with an allocation of 3.2% of its GDP, approximately $17.7 billion – a 16% increase from the previous year – to environmental endeavours, aided by EU Cohesion funds. Since joining the EU in 2004, Poland has significantly improved its environmental framework by establishing over 1,000 water treatment plants, laying extensive new piping systems, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by over 30%, and initiating numerous hazardous waste management facilities, as well as developing long-term conservation programs for endangered species.

Agricultural Products

Poland is a leading agri-food producer in Central and Eastern Europe, with over 1,270 companies in the sector in 2021 and a GDP of $674 billion. In 2021, Poland exported agri-food goods worth over $37 billion, accounting for 5% of its GDP. In 2022, commodity exchange increased by 23%, amounting to €15.5 billion. Poland's agricultural production is diverse, including a variety of products and crop types.

Machinery and Equipment

Poland's Machinery and Equipment industry is witnessing steady growth amid challenges like geopolitical uncertainties and supply chain disruptions. Positive influences such as rising global demand and advancements in technology contribute to a favourable outlook, with the market projected to grow by 5.43% from 2023 to 2028, attaining a volume of US$7.28 billion in 2028.

Business Services

Poland has become a major hub for business services in Europe, making it an attractive destination for investors looking to establish new service centres. The sector is expanding rapidly, with around 650 centres already in operation, underscoring Poland's importance in the shared services centre/business process outsourcing industry. According to Michael Page's Global HR Barometer, almost half of HR leaders expect to expand their workforce in the next 12 months. However, there are some medium-term challenges facing the sector, such as a shortage of skilled workers, the dominance of micro and small businesses with low productivity, and weak connections to local, national, and international markets.

High-Tech Sector

Poland's high-tech and information technology sector is experiencing rapid growth, with IT expenditures in 2021 surging 16.8% to $22.3 billion, contributing around 8% to the nation's GDP. Projections for the sector remain upbeat, with significant variances across market segments. The hardware segment is expected to slow down due to relative saturation, while cloud services, used by 24% of all companies and 70% of large organisations, are expanding at a rate seven times the overall IT market, reaching a value of $579 million in 2021. This growth is being driven by major investments from Google and Amazon, which are positioning Poland to potentially emerge as a pivotal colocation data centre hub in Central and Eastern Europe by 2026.

E-commerce

Poland is one of Europe's fastest-growing e-commerce markets, with a registered e-commerce store count of around 58,000 in 2022. This reflects the growing preference of Polish consumers for online purchases, including from international retailers. The Polish e-commerce market is expected to generate revenue of $14.45 billion in 2023 and grow at a CAGR of 10.3% from 2023 to 2027, reaching a market volume of $21.17 billion by 2027. At the same time, the social commerce sector in Poland is also seeing rapid growth, driven by the increasing penetration and adoption of e-commerce in smaller cities. The social commerce market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 66.4% to reach $2.76 billion in 2022.

Healthcare

Poland's healthcare system operates on a public insurance model, with mandatory health contributions levied on earned wages, fund services, and medication reimbursements through the National Health Fund (NFZ). The system receives financial support from the NFZ, employers, and the state budget, with public healthcare spending accounting for 5% of GDP in 2022. In addition to the public sector, the private healthcare market in Poland has experienced substantial growth from 2017 to 2023, reflecting the country's diversified healthcare landscape.

 

Construction

Polish construction output grew by 6.7% in 2021 but is expected to contract by over 3% in 2023 due to elevated inflation rates and significant interest rate hikes. These factors have made it more difficult to finance construction projects, particularly residential projects, where mortgage loans have declined substantially. Additionally, the current halt on €36 billion in funding from the Next Generation EU fund, due to ongoing rule-of-law disputes between the EU and Poland, is significantly impacting civil engineering activities, as many infrastructure projects rely on EU funding.

Transportation

In 2021, Poland's transportation sector employed approximately 693,000 people and generated substantial revenues from cargo and passenger transport, primarily dominated by road transport. The sector is diverse, with evolving air transport and various forms of land, water, and transmission transport.

Imports and Exports

Poland saw significant trade activity in 2022-2023, with both imports and exports increasing substantially. In 2022, Poland imported $381.2 billion worth of goods, a 42.4% increase from 2018 and a 13.6% increase from 2021. The top imports were cars ($11.3 billion), crude petroleum ($9.94 billion), vehicle parts and accessories ($9.59 billion), broadcasting equipment ($7.37 billion), and packaged medicaments ($5.78 billion). Germany was Poland's largest import partner in 2022, accounting for 23% of total imports. China, Russia, and Italy followed, with 12%, 7%, and 5% shares, respectively. France, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic each contributed 4% of Poland's imports, while the United States contributed 3%, and Belgium and the United Kingdom 2% each.

Poland's export sector also flourished in 2022, reaching $360.5 billion, a 37.7% increase from 2018 and a 13.4% increase from 2021. The leading exports were motor vehicle parts and accessories ($14.6 billion), electric batteries ($8.74 billion), seats ($6.98 billion), other furniture ($6.73 billion), and video displays ($6.32 billion). Germany was the predominant export partner, receiving 27.8% of Poland's total exports, followed by the Czech Republic (6.6%), France (5.7%), the United Kingdom (4.9%), and the Netherlands and Italy (4.6% each). Other notable export destinations included the United States, Slovakia, Ukraine, Sweden, Hungary, and Spain. The diversity of Poland's trade portfolio, involving partners predominantly from Europe and spanning sectors from automotive and technology to pharmaceuticals, highlights its multifaceted trade environment.

Regulation in Poland

The regulatory environment of Poland

Summary of the regulatory environment in Poland

To maintain fairness and operational smoothness in business ventures in Poland, entrepreneurs are required to comply with a range of laws and regulations, which include:

  • Company law: This includes regulations governing companies' establishment, operations, and dissolution.

  • Employment law: This includes regulations governing employment contracts, working conditions, and employee rights.

  • Product liability law: This includes regulations governing the legal liabilities and responsibilities of manufacturers, sellers, distributors, and other parties involved in the production and sale of goods.

  • Intellectual property law: This includes regulations governing copyrights, patents, and trademarks. 

  • Competition law: This includes regulations governing competition and antitrust matters to promote fair competition.

  • Consumer protection law: This includes regulations governing the rights of consumers, product safety, and advertising standards.

  • Data protection law: This includes regulations concerning the collection, use, and storage of personal data.

 In Poland, several governmental entities oversee various domains of law to ensure legal compliance and order. The Ministry of Economic Development and the National Court Register oversee company law, handling the regulation of companies' establishment, operations, and dissolution. Employment law is managed by the Ministry of Family, Labour, and Social Policy, along with the National Labour Inspectorate, which focuses on employment contracts, working conditions, and rights.

The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) governs both product liability law and consumer protection law, ensuring the legal responsibilities of producers and sellers and protecting consumers' rights, safety, and advertising standards. Intellectual property law is supervised by the Polish Patent Office, which administers copyrights, patents, and trademarks. UOKiK also administers competition law, addressing fair competition and antitrust matters. Lastly, the Personal Data Protection Office (UODO) regulates the collection, use, and storage of personal data under the Data Protection Law.

How card payments are regulated in Poland

In Poland, the regulation of card payments falls under the jurisdiction of the central bank, Narodowy Bank Polski. As a member of the European Union, Poland also adheres to Payment Service Directive 2 (PSD2), which prohibits retailers from adding fees to transactions conducted via card payments. However, there are several limitations and exceptions to this rule.

Due to an extensive acceptance network, contactless payments have become predominant in the country, making up 95.8% of total card transactions in the first half of 2021. By early 2019, every point of sale (POS) terminal in the country had been adapted to support cards with a contactless function, facilitating this high usage.

European cardholders can generally use their national cards at any terminal in Europe, but this is only possible because these cards are co-badged with international card payment schemes, such as MasterCard and Visa. In other words, the acceptance of national cards across Europe depends on their co-badging with international schemes.

Do I need a licence?

Yes. In Poland, you may need a licence to start a business, especially if it operates in a specific sector. Polish law requires businesses to obtain the relevant permits before starting operations, and failure to do so can result in penalties. However, most service providers, especially those from the EU, can temporarily offer their services across EU borders without a licence, making this a convenient option for those who wish to deliver services in Poland temporarily and occasionally. This provision also applies to private citizens of EU member states, eliminating the need to establish a company in such cases. Nevertheless, certain commercial activities may still require a permit, concession, or registration in a designated register stipulated by Polish law to comply with regulatory requirements.

Payment solutions in Poland

An overview of how to accept payments from customers in Poland

Payment gateways and providers in Poland

Poland's evolving payment landscape requires merchants to accommodate multiple transaction forms. Businesses are thus seeking versatile payment solutions. APEXX uses its payment orchestration layer (POL) to link payment methods and banks.

 The POL's strength lies in its support for various payment types and its features that boost business productivity.

Thanks to APEXX's pre-configured plugins and APIs, integrating its payment services into current systems is hassle-free. It allows smooth compatibility with different platforms, including online stores and point-of-sale systems, enhancing workflow.

APEXX's solutions allow firms to process diverse payments and enhance transaction volumes. Its flexible framework helps in elevating customer service.

Cheapest payment solutions in Poland

To reduce fees in their payment stacks, merchants in Poland can implement the following strategies: 

  • Negotiate fees: Merchants should negotiate with their payment providers for better rates, including transaction fees, and monthly fees.

  • Choose a suitable payment provider: Merchants should research and compare different payment providers to select the one that offers competitive rates and low fees. 

  • Use alternative payment methods: Merchants can reduce fees by using alternative payment methods such as e-wallets or bank transfers instead of traditional card payments.

  • Prevent chargebacks: To avoid chargebacks and additional fees, merchants can offer clear product descriptions, prompt customer complaint resolution, and refunds when necessary.

  • Implement fraud prevention measures: Merchants should adopt fraud prevention measures to prevent fraudulent transactions, which can lead to chargebacks and additional fees.

  • Monitor payment processing fees: Merchants should keep a close eye on their payment processing fees and use payment analytics tools to track their expenses and identify areas where they can reduce costs.

Merchants can also consider using payment aggregators such as APEXX, which allow them to accept multiple payment methods through a single platform, reducing the need for multiple payment providers and lowering costs.

BNPL in Poland

The buy now, pay later (BNPL) sector in Poland is on a steady upward trajectory, with payments expected to grow by 23.0% annually in 2023, reaching a valuation of $1,722.8 million. This growth is driven by the strong momentum witnessed over the past four quarters and the accelerating adoption of e-commerce in the region.

The BNPL industry's enduring growth story in Poland remains compelling, with steady growth in BNPL payment adoption predicted throughout the forecast period, with a CAGR of 12.6% between 2023 and 2028. BNPL's gross merchandise value in Poland will rise from $1,400.7 million in 2022 to an estimated $3,118.9 million by 2028 as a result. 

In this growing market, APEXX offers a solution that helps merchants seamlessly manage and integrate a variety of alternative payment methods, optimising operational processes and facilitating smoother transactions. This is essential in a landscape where alternative payment solutions such as BNPL are gaining significant traction.




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