Bank services and card payments have worked without any hitches during the state of emergency
Payment services and card payments are vital services. Banks must keep vital services operating even if people are not able to live their normal lives. So far they have functioned without incident.
After the state of emergency was declared, the number and turnover of card payments in shops increased substantially according to the banks, as people started to stock up their homes. This spike proved only temporary though.
The card payment processor Nets Estonia and the banks say that the largest amount of card payments came on 13 March this year, when the daytime peak was like that at Christmas. The systems needed by the banks and the card payment processor to handle these card payments coped very well with the load.
Although it is hoped that there will be no further outbreak of excessive purchases and stockpiling, Eesti Pank recommends making payments by bankcard during the state of emergency. It is even better to pay with contactless card or smart phone, as they do not need the payer to touch the keypad of the card terminal. The banks raised the payment limit for contactless payments to 50 euros on 23 March because of the state of emergency, as this will facilitate the use of contactless payments even more. The banks believe that setting a limit of 50 euros will allow 95% of card payments to be made by contactless card. The average size of card payments in Estonia is 17 euros under normal circumstances.
The speed that payments move is very important for bank clients
An average of 484,000 payments are made every day in Estonia, and 89% of them are instant payments. The banks say that almost the same amount as normal of payment orders has been executed under the state of emergency and it has been done smoothly.
All payments made in Estonia within one bank and 58% of interbank payments are made as instant payments. This is quite a remarkable figure, as only 5.5% of interbank payments in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2019 were instant payments.
This is only an approximate figure because the banks in Europe use different service providers to provide instant payments. There are currently no statistics available that are measured in the same way everywhere. Instant payments do not cost any more than normal payments in Estonia, but there are some banks in Europe that charge a higher fee for instant payments.
Currently only payments that are for less than 15,000 euros can be sent through the instant payments system. On 1 July the system limit for instant payments will be raised to 100,000 euros.