Card payments post double-digit growth
Polish consumers have gained confidence in the use of cards for payments and they are willing to use them in retail and service outlets. In 2012 the volume and value of cashless payments showed impressive double-digit growth. The positive tendency was observed in debit cards, where the value of transactions increased significantly faster than the number of cards in circulation. In the case of credit cards, despite a decrease in the number of cards in circulation, their value of transactions grew. Issuers and operators encourage cardholders to use financial cards actively, waiving fees for cards if they are actively utilised.
The breakthrough in contactless payments
In Poland the first contactless cards with the logo of multinational operators started to be issued in 2007. Since this time, contactless cards have spread and are available in the offers of most commercial banks and some cooperative banks. In 2012 a significant expansion of contactless cards infrastructure has been seen. Contactless cards are accepted by retail and foodservice chains such as McDonald’s, Kolporter, Shell, Douglas, Auchan and Carrefour, as well as many independent points of sale. According to a Visa Europe source, from April 2012, Poland registered the largest number and value of contactless transactions in Europe. Poles increasingly pay by contactless cards, considering that way of payment to be fast and convenient.
PKO Bank Polski, mBank and Pekao on the lead
PKO Bank Polski SA, mBank (BRE Bank SA) and Pekao SA remain the largest issuers of financial cards in Poland. PKO Bank Polski and Pekao are the largest banks in Poland, with the largest number of branches and assets, while mBank is an online bank, which attracts consumers by offering bank accounts and debit cards with no charges if the card is used actively. In 2012, Banco Santander (the owner of Bank Zachodni WBK) and Belgian KBC Bank (owner of Kredyt Bank SA) signed an agreement regarding a merger of both banks in Poland. The new joint entity is expected to have a network of over 900 branches and serve 3.5 million customers across the country. The bank will have a significant share in consumer banking, which may impact a change in the shares of the largest issuers of financial cards.
High interchange fees impacts financial card acceptance network
Interchange fees for card payments in Poland are among the highest in Europe. These fees are approximately twice the EU average. High fees discourage small retailers and service providers from installing POS terminals as the cost of card acceptance significantly impacts margins. In 2012 companies operating in financial cards started to discuss intensively interchange fees. The National Bank of Poland was also involved in the discussion. It suggested a gradual reduction of interchange fees to reach the level of the EU average (0.7% for debit cards and 0.84% for credit and charge cards) in January 2017. Such a decrease will help to widen financial cards’ acceptance network, driving further increases in the volume and value of card transactions.
Positive performance expected for financial cards
The performance of financial cards is expected to be strong as they have great potential for further development. Measures of their usage remained significantly lower than the average for EU countries at the end of the review period. Volume and value of transactions per card saw an upward tendency over the review period and this trend is expected to be continued over the forecast period. Card payments are predicted to develop faster than ATM transactions. Growth will be attributable to the rising banked population in Poland, driving a higher number of debit cards attached to a bank account, a growing number of transportation closed loop pre-paid cards and the transactions made by them, ??as well as the increasing use of open loop pre-paid cards.
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