The use of bank cards increased by 6.5 pct over the year

Bank cards issued in Estonia are being used more and more, and in the third quarter an average of around 740,000 card payments were made each day at a total value of 12.6 million euros. The number of card payments made was 6.5% larger than in the same quarter of 2014, and the total value was up 8%. Wider use of bank cards in Estonia is encouraged by merchants making it ever easier to pay for purchases with cards. At the end of September 2015 there were 30,424 points of sale in Estonia that accepted cards, which is 2100 more than a year earlier.

The number of card payments made per person is large in Estonia, but the amount of the average payment is small. Estonia stands out in comparison to other European countries for its high number of card payments. Data for 2014 show that the most card payments per person were made in Sweden, where 270 payments per person per year were made, and Denmark where there were 269, followed by Finland on 244 and Estonia on 188. The average card payment in Estonia was the smallest in Europe at 17 euros, which indicates that bank cards are preferred in Estonia for small purchases. The average card payment was largest in Germany at 77 euros and in Luxembourg at 72 euros.

There was an increase in the value of cash transactions at ATMs in the third quarter, as an average of around 111,000 withdrawals were made each day for a total value of 11.2 million euros, making the average withdrawal 101 euros. Cash was paid in on average around 14,900 times a day for a total value of 5.9 million euros, and the average amount paid in was 396 euros. The sums paid in and withdrawn were both around 4% larger than a year earlier.

There were 810 ATMs in Estonia at the end of September, of which 552 were able to handle cash transactions and also allow payments to be made. Of those 810 ATMs, 97% can be used with cards of different banks, but only for withdrawals. In the past six years the number of ATMs has been reduced by 207, but the number of ATMs which can only accept cash transactions has increased. In the third quarter alone, 31 ATMs were added where cash can be paid into accounts, and at the end of September there were a total of 169 such machines.

There were 642 ATMs per million residents of Estonia at the end of 2014, which is close to the average for the European Union. The largest number of ATMs per million residents in the European Union is in France, where there are 1736, and Portugal, where there are 1516. The lowest numbers are in Sweden, where there are 333 ATMs per million residents, and Finland with 405. The number of ATMs has fallen in recent years in most countries.

Author: Teet Puusepp, Eesti Pank Payment and Settlement Systems Department

Read more from Bank of Estonia website here

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