People need to be ready for changes to their account numbers and direct debits

Rainer Olt
Rainer Olt
Eesti Pank Payment and Settlement Systems Department

The survey of the payment behaviour of Estonian households by TNS Emor revealed that more than half of Estonian residents are unaware of the changes that will be made to bank account numbers and direct debits in 2014. Banks and some companies have been working to inform their clients in advance about the changes, but the real changes will be made in the new year when account numbers get longer and direct debits within Estonia are replaced by e-invoice standing orders. To adapt to the changes more quickly, people should really pay attention to the information distributed by banks and companies in the coming months and make sure they know what they will need to do differently when making payments in future.      

The survey showed that the use of bank channels for payments continues to increase.  Standing orders and direct debits are used by 70% of people in Estonia, and internet banking by 62%.  Payments are only made in banks or post offices or directly to suppliers of services by 22% of people, down from 33% in 2011. Standing orders and direct debits are used more by people of retirement age, while internet banking is preferred by younger families.

The part played by cash in the payment behaviour of people in Estonia has decreased, both for receiving income and for paying for purchases. Only 4% of people receive their income partly or wholly in cash, including state benefits and other incomes, which is half as many as two years ago. The survey showed that the largest share of people receiving their income in cash were in Eastern Estonia. Those who use both payment cards and cash to pay for purchases have started to use card payments more. The continued growth in card payments was confirmed by the statistics collected by Eesti Pank showing that 17% more card payments were made in Estonia than two years ago, and an average of around 600,000 card payments are made each day. The share of households using only cash for purchases remains at 12%, which is the same as it was two years ago. Cash is used most by the retired, those with low incomes, and residents of towns in Ida-Virumaa.  

People in Estonia are buying more and more from foreign retailers over the internet, as the number doing so has doubled in two years and around a quarter of Estonian residents have now used such services. Card payments account for 46% of such purchases and PayPal for 36%. Purchases over the internet are mostly made by young families, families with children and people with higher incomes. Online shoppers consider that they will continue to buy over the internet in future.

One tenth of Estonian residents currently have or have had a bank account in another country. These accounts are or were mainly used for studies or work abroad and mainly held by people with higher incomes, meaning a personal income of 900 euros or more. As purchases over the internet become ever more important, it is worth noting that some respondents to the survey said the reason for holding an account abroad was so that they could more easily pay for goods and services ordered from abroad.   

The survey found that about one third of Estonian residents would be interested in the cross-border SEPA (Single European Payment Area) direct debit service. This is a service that is likely to come to the Estonian market from February 2014 and will allow payments to be made automatically for the consumption of goods or services from abroad. The main interest in this came from those who already use the internet for making purchases. As there is no cross-border direct debit service at present, respondents might not be able to assess their real need for one.

Eesti Pank and TNS Emor will present the results of the survey publicly in more detail on 6 November in the press centre of the Eesti Pank museum.

The survey by TMS Emor was conducted in September this year and covered 911 families, with respondents aged between 18 and 74. The survey was commissioned by Eesti Pank.

TNS Emor has been conducting the F-monitoring survey since 1998. The survey maps changes in how Estonian residents use money and in the options and desires behind their financial behaviour. This time the survey focused on the payment habits of Estonian families.

For further information:
Ingrid Mitt
Public Relations Office
Tel: +372 668 0965, +372 512 6843
Email: ingrid.mitt [at]
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