SOFORT Payment Method Guide

Businesses that are looking to grow in Europe can quickly do so by offering targeted payment methods for key markets. One such payment method is SOFORT.

In the German-speaking countries of Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Austria), and also in Belgium, SOFORT is a key online payment method, offered by almost 25,000 online shops, and accounting for over 3 million transactions per month.

With this payment method, businesses benefit from relatively low fees per transaction, a high level of security, and significantly increased sales potential.

To help you understand key features of this key payment method, we have put together a short guide that covers the information such as shopper setup, payment flow, and security.

Adyen offers a full-service solution, including all reconciliation, reporting and settlement services.

Mobile phone on table displaying SOFORT payment method checkout

SOFORT Payment method guide

SOFORT is an online direct payment method, which works on the basis of online banking. It is the predominant online banking method in the German-speaking countries of Europe, and also in Belgium.

With this payment method, merchants benefit from:

  • A real-time transaction notification
  • Relatively low fees per transaction
  • High bank coverage throughout Europe
  • Increased sales potentially due to widespread use of online banking
  • Secure payments and fraud protection

Fast facts:

Who's it is relevant for

Due to its local dominance and relative ease of integration, SOFORT is a must-have for any ecommerce operation in the DACH region (this covers Germany, Austria, and Switzerland).

What Adyen offers

*Please note: 

1. A number of German banks offer shoppers the possibility to cancel bank transfers until midnight of the same day as the transaction.

2. A further possibility for cancellation is if, following an authorized transaction, a shopper withdraws a short period of time.

3. In Switzerland, banks are required by law to allow shoppers to reverse bank transfers for 48 hours. 

Adyen offers a full service SOFORT solution, including all reconciliation, reporting and settlement services. Adyen also offers the following key functionalities:

  • Refunds: Although refunds are not supported by SOFORT itself, Adyen supports refunds and partial refunds via bank transfer because it stores the shopper's account details at the initial transaction.
  • Recurring transactions: Adyen can also use stored payment details to make recurring transactions via SEPA directed. (Note: recurring transactions via SEPA direct debits can be charged back.)

How SOFORT works on desktop

SOFORT is an online real-time bank transfer initiation service from shopper to merchant.

At the checkout, shoppers are redirected to the online banking environment where payment details and beneficiary are pre-filled. 

The shopper completes the bank transfer and uses the authentication procedure enforced by the bank.

The purchase amount is instantly taken away from the account and settled to the merchant within one working day. 

Shoppers can pay for online purchases with their familiar online banking details.

Thanks to the real-time notification, the merchant can dispatch the goods to the shopper immediately.

To accept SOFORT payments, merchants can sign up at SOFORT directly or payment service providers such as Adyen. 

Example shopper flow

1. The shopper chooses SOFORT from among the payment method options on the merchant's website.

2. After selecting SOFORT, the shopper is redirected to the online banking environment and chooses their country enters the name of their bank.

4. The shopper selects their account (if more than one is available).

5. The shopper enters a transaction authentication number, which is sent via SMS or generated on a secure device, depending on the bank.

How SOFORT works on mobile

Shoppers can pay on a regular mobile website. This normally involves a two-step authentication process.

Example shopper flow

1. The shopper chooses SOFORT from among the payment method options on the merchant mobile website.

2a. After selecting SOFORT as the payment method, the shopper chooses their bank by selecting their country and sort code.

2b. If the sort code is not on hand, the shopper can also select their bank via keyword search and choose from a list.

3. The shopper enters their bank credentials.

4. The shopper enters a transaction authentication number, which is sent via SMS or generated on a secure device, depending on the bank.

5. The shopper reaches the confirmation page.


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