One in six card payments is made using a smartphone or smartwatch
Payment and Settlement Systems Department
Residents of Estonia mainly use the two million bankcards that have been issued by banks in Estonia for making purchases, but they are also used regularly for withdrawing notable amounts of cash from ATMs and points of sale.
The average Estonian resident spent a monthly average of 416 euros via bankcard payments in sales points in Estonia and abroad in the first quarter, and a further 95 euros in online stores. An average of 184 euros a month was withdrawn in cash per resident and an average of 88 euros a month was paid onto accounts through ATMs. This means that each resident withdrew 13 euros less each month than in the same period of last year, and spent 67 euros more in points of sale.
The average person in Estonia makes 1.3 withdrawals of cash a month from ATMs, pays by card 22 times a month in physical points of sale, and 3.1 times a month in online stores.
Nine out of every ten euros spent using bankcards in physical points of sale within Estonia or beyond the border went to Estonian merchants. Of the monthly average of 416 euros that was spent using bankcards in the first quarter, 376 euros each month went to Estonian shops and other points of sale and 40 euros was spent abroad. Estonian bankcards were used for payments in 195 different countries around the world in the first quarter, and were used most frequently in Finland, Spain, Latvia, Italy and Sweden.
There are increasing numbers of cardholders who do not use a plastic card for payments. Digital wallets and mobile phones, smartwatches and smart rings were used for 16.5% of card payments in Estonia in the first quarter which is 8% more than a year earlier. Estonian residents use digital wallets even more frequently abroad, as they were used for one in four of all card payments made in the first quarter, which is 12% more than a year earlier. The share of payments made using digital wallets is also being increased by the virtual cards that some banks issue. Owners of virtual cards do not need to have a plastic card. Virtual cards can be added to the digital wallet of a telephone or smartwatch (e.g. Apple Pay, Google Pay), and can be used for purchases in physical points of sale as well as in online stores.
Cardholders are increasingly activating the contactless payment function on their bankcards. All of the bankcards issued by banks in Estonia essentially have the capacity for contactless payments, as do all the terminals that accept card payments. Cardholders had activated contactless payments on 82% of bankcards by the end of March, which is 4% more than a year earlier. The number of bankcards that have the contactless function activated increased by some 144,000 over the year. In the first quarter, 66% of card payments in Estonia were contactless, which was 9% more than a year earlier. People from Estonia use contactless payments even more frequently abroad, as 71% of payments in other countries were contactless in the first quarter.
The largest share of the money spent on bankcards was spent in shops selling food and basic necessities, while a large part of the money was also spent on eating out, fuel, electronics, household goods, clothing, medicines and entertainment.
The average person in Estonia spent 511 euros a month on average with their bankcard in physical points of sale in Estonia and abroad and in online stores in the first quarter. The largest share of this went on food and basic necessities, which accounted for 201 euros or 39% of card payments. An average of 57 euros per person each month was spent in shops selling various manufactured goods such as electronics and household goods, sports equipment, furniture, books and flowers, jewellery and watches.
A further 45 euros per person each month was spent using a bankcard in food outlets, restaurants and other evening venues such as nightclubs and bars. One fifth of the food purchased from food outlets was ordered through an app to be delivered to homes or workplaces. Interest in eating out seems to be greater than it was last year, as 28% of food was ordered through an app for home delivery in the first quarter of last year. Fuel and other purchases from petrol stations accounted for 36 euros a month, and medicines and treatments an average of 28 euros, half of which was spent in chemists and a large part at dentists and shops selling glasses.
Spending in all these sectors was higher than it was last year. The exception was shops selling wood and construction materials, and tools, where a little less was spent in the first quarter than a year earlier.
The average resident of Estonia spent four euros on lottery tickets or betting in the first quarter. It should be noted that a large share of lottery tickets are bought through bank links, and so the average resident of Estonia actually spends around 10 euros a month on lottery tickets and gambling.
• The bankcard is used most frequently for payments in shops by 90% of residents of Estonia (RAIT Faktum&Ariko 2021) and only a tenth use cash most frequently.
• Allocations for spending per person use the latest population census data from Statistics Estonia, which show there are 1,331,796 people living in Estonia.
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