Retail Banking Research has issued a report on Cards in Europe with the not-so surprising conclusion that debit cards rule in Europe.
About 642 million payment cards were in issue in western Europe at end-2002, 16 per cent more than at end-2000. Six countries account for 80 per cent of cards with the UK being the largest market, with 145.6 million cards (a 22.7 per cent share). Germany is up next at 120.2 million cards, or an 18.7 per cent share.
In terms of credit card issuance, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Greece saw growth rates of over 30 per cent in the last two years, even if debit cards account for 53 per cent of all cards in western Europe. Banks, significantly, issue four out of five payment cards in the region (81 per cent at end-2002), with private labels at 17.1 per cent, and T&E organizations, at 1.7 per cent.
Western Europeans made about 19.5 billion payment card purchases in 2002, 4.1 billion (26 per cent) more than in 2000, while card payment value lagged volume, at 1,164 billion euros in 2002, a 21 per cent increase on the 2000 total.
Spain has the greatest number of installed POS terminals in Western Europe, at 900,000 terminals, with France second, at 819,000 and the UK third, at 810,000. The total number of POS terminals in the region grew 22 per cent to 5.72 million between 2000 and end-2002, even if the density of the installed base was generally higher in smaller countries such as Norway and Greece. Spain has 26,261 terminals per million adults, while Norway has 22,092, and Greece 20,293 per million, but the UK, the largest card market in the region, has just 16,679 terminals per million, somewhat above the regional average of 15,253.