The availability of payment services in Estonia is good
Eesti Pank Payment and Settlement Systems Department
The availability of the payment services of banks in Estonia is good because 97% of consumers have a bank account, compared to the European average of 86%, and access to internet banking is good. Eesti Pank statistics show that private clients and business entities held a total of 1.8 million bank accounts at the end of 2013, meaning that it is quite common to hold multiple accounts in Estonia. Around two million bank clients were users of an internet bank in the first quarter of 2014. Furthermore it is estimated that mobile apps for banking have been downloaded and installed over a quarter of a million times. The simple and convenient access to the internet and mobile payment applications means that payment services are accessible everywhere in Estonia and 99.6% of the payments made through banks in Estonia are initiated electronically.
Payment services and cash are available in 82% of Estonian districts1 through bank branch offices, bank buses, the post office bank or ATMs. Bank cards can be used for payment in around 20,000 points of sale and cash can be withdrawn from 821 ATMs, 112 of which also allow cash to be deposited. At the end of 2013 there were 140 bank branch offices in Estonia, 96% of them in towns. Although there are now 35% fewer branch offices than there were in 2009, and some of them have become cashless, the banks have replaced them with other solutions. These include the bank bus, which has 51 stops and 220 post bank offices across Estonia, and this means that the main banking services are available in even the smallest settlements.
Fees for payment services have not changed much in Estonia in the past few years. The main changes in the cost of payment services are from the differences between the payment channels, as payments in branch offices are more expensive than electronic payments. The banks are promoting offers and discounts for client segments, which has brought down the cost of many bank services and payment services. In most electronic channels young clients, including students, and pensioners can enjoy free intra-bank payments at the least.
The European Union wants to make it easier to open a bank account in another country and in future Estonian residents will be able to compare their bank fees with fees from all across Europe2. The prices of payment services in banks operating in Estonia can already be compared on the website minuraha.ee. The prices of payment services in other countries can be found from the price lists of the banks concerned. Research by Eesti Pank into the price lists of banks in Finland, Latvia and Sweden shows that the prices of payment services of Estonian banks are competitive against those of banks in other countries (the price comparison does not consider discounts or prices for packages of services). If price comparison becomes simpler across Europe in future, the biggest winners will be bank clients, who will have wider choice and more attractive offers as competition between the banks becomes tighter. If a local bank client finds a more attractive banking service provider abroad, then it will be possible to change bank.
1 - At least one branch office, post office bank, ATM or bank bus stop in the district.
2 - For more on the European directive, see http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20140411IPR43466/html/Basic-bank-accounts-for-all
For further information:
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Email:press [at] eestipank.ee