Estonian residents are using their bank cards more and more abroad

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Tiina Soosalu
Tiina Soosalu
Payment and Settlement Systems Department
  • The number of domestic cashless payments is growing continuously
  • Card payments account for 2/3 of all payments
  • Use of cards abroad by Estonian residents is also increasing and payments were made by card in 185 foreign countries in the second quarter

An average of 1.1 million domestic cashless payments were made each day in the second quarter of 2016 in Estonia, with a total value of 370 million euros. The number of payments was 7% higher than in the first quarter of last year, but the turnover was 6% smaller. The number of payments made by individuals and by companies has risen steadily, though the turnover of payments has been notably more volatile. The turnover of corporate payments is affected by the general level of economic activity, and also by the activities of individual large companies.

About 66% of all domestic payments are made by card at the point of sale. As card payments are used for small sums however, they account for only 3% of the total turnover. A daily average of 739,000 card payments were made in Estonia in the second quarter and 98% of them were made by private people.

Estonian residents made a daily average of 48,000 card payments outside Estonia in the second quarter. While December is the month that sees the most card payments in Estonia, it is the holiday months of June and July when cards issued in Estonia are used most frequently for payments abroad. The number of card payments made outside Estonia is 60-74% higher in the summer months than in January. Residents of Estonia paid by card in 185 different countries. Around one third of the card payments made abroad were made in Finland, where an average of 14,000 payments a day were made in the second quarter. Increased numbers of card payments were made in Sweden, Latvia and Russia too. In around half of the countries, Estonian residents made payments once a day on average. These were countries where the ability to pay by card is limited and to where fewer visits are made.

Data from Statistics Estonia show Estonian residents made 1.25 million trips abroad with an overnight stay in 2015, which is around one third more than ten years ago. At the same time that the number of card payments made outside Estonia has increased more than fourfold, the turnover is only 2.7 times higher, which indicates that cards are used more and more abroad for paying smaller amounts. The average payment abroad in 2006 was for 54 euros, but in the second quarter of this year, the average was 32 euros. The size of the average payment outside Estonia may be affected by the minimum sum for card payments imposed by some merchants.

Cash was withdrawn from ATMs outside Estonia an average of 3900 times per day, with withdrawals averaging 150 euros. The average withdrawal from cash machines in Estonia was 100 euros. While it is generally free to make card payments abroad, there is a service fee for making withdrawals from ATMs. More information about service fees can be found in Estonian from www.minuraha.ee.

Statistics for Eesti Pank's payment and settlement systems

Eesti Pank will publish its next statement on payments on 26 October 2016.


For further information:
Ingrid Mitt
Public Relations Office
Tel: 668 0965, 512 6843
Email: ingrid.mitt [at] eestipank.ee
Press enquiries: press [at] eestipank.ee