Bank of Estonia: Card payments at all-time record levels in June

Bank of Estonia coat of arms.
Bank of Estonia coat of arms. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Residents of Estonia made an average of more than 1 million card payments a day in points of sale in Estonia in June, an all-time record with a total value of €18.5 million, the Bank of Estonia (Eesti Pank) announced on Monday.

Five years ago, 97 percent of the purchases made with bank cards were in physical points of sale and only 3 percent were in online stores, but in March and April this year the share of bank card payments made online was up to 14 percent.

The number of card payments was 10 percent higher than in June last year, and the turnover was 12 percent higher, and the figures were the highest ever recorded for June.

The relaxation of the restrictions has brought people back into shops, but it may be expected that in future a much larger share of purchases will continue to be made through e-commerce, the central bank announced in a press release.

The pandemic caused a lot of everyday purchases such as food and other primary goods to move to internet stores. Bank cards were used for 123,000 online purchases a day in June this year, which was 2.5 times as many as in June 2019.

An average of €3.4 million a day was spent in Estonian and foreign e-commerce stores, which is a little less than in spring this year but 75 percent more than two years ago.

Coronavirus restrictions meant however that the volume of card payments made abroad remained at a low level. Card payments made abroad in June totaled less than half as much as in June two years ago before the pandemic, the central bank said.

Card payments continue to be made most in Finland, where the volume of card transactions was affected less than in other neighboring countries, largely because of people from Estonia living and working there. The strongest contrast with the pre-pandemic period was in the share of card payments made in Latvia. Latvia eased its restrictions somewhat from the middle of June, but even so Estonian cardholders made only 3700 card payments day in Latvia, down from 11,500 a year earlier, the central bank penned.

Of the 1.87 million bank cards issued by banks in Estonia, 1.76 million or 94.5 percent of all cards issued had contactless capacity at the end of June. The contactless function was deactivated on a fifth of cards that had it at the end of June; it was deactivated on 24 percent of cards at the end of 2019.

Around half of card payments are now contactless in Estonia, and contactless payments are used even more frequently abroad, the bank said. The limit for contactless payments was raised at the start of the pandemic to 50 euros, where it still remains today, and most countries in Europe have a similar limit. 


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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