The FINANCIAL -- In total 5,307,015 debit cards were issued in Georgia as of 1 March, 2014, up from 4,246,173 from the same period of last year.
The number of debit cards increased by 20% as of 1 March, 2014, in comparison with the same period of last year. The number is 33.3% more than it was in 2012. The value of transactions reached GEL 814,379,000, up from GEL 652,987,000 or 20% more from March 2013.
The total value of transactions amounted to GEL 814,379,000 as of March 2014. The major share, or 81.6%, was withdrawn from ATMs. The remaining 18.3% was spent via POS-terminals and imprinters. Customers did 0.1 percent more of their shopping with card payments in 2014 than in the previous year.
The number of transactions via ATM reached 3,760,014 units as of March 2014, up from 3,055,868 units as of March 2013. 3,391,786 is the number of transactions made through POS terminals in 2014, up from 2,146,731 from the previous year.
Transactions via the internet have decreased slightly in 2014. The total value of transactions was GEL 33,518,000 down from GEL 33,632,000 as of 1 March, 2013.
A growth of almost 24% was shown in the issuing of credit cards as of March 2014. 1,457,118 units of credit cards were issued in the first two months of 2014, up from 1,110,205 from last year’s data.
Limited access to POS-terminals is the main reason why over 70% of respondents questioned by The FINANCIAL prefer to carry cash. During the last week over 400 cardholders were questioned to find out the main trends of the cashless society.
Card payment is available only at huge stores and while corner shops are dominating on the market, there is no alternative for carrying cash.
86% of respondents welcome cashless economy as it brings them added safety. In the event of robbery it is easier to block a card and feel secure. 56% tend to choose a store which offers cashless payment. The advantage can be useful for store owners in terms of attracting more customers, or even so as not to lose them.
The share of cash in Georgia’s GDP is currently at around 8.98%.
“The Georgian card payment market is characterized by a high rate of introducing innovative products. Alongside commercial banks, the Government has also played a big role in the development of card payments. Namely, launching pensions and all the social benefits started via banking channels; public service employee salaries are bound to their personal bank accounts; also, in a number of schools cash payment has become limited,” said Giorgi Melashvili, Executive Director at National Bank of Georgia.
“As the statistics show, cardholders are using their cards more and more in sales and service facilities. Although there is still a limited amount of data on this, the withdrawal of cash from ATM transactions in respect to non-cash payments by credit cards is greater, but the trend of the latter has been steadily increasing in recent years,” said Melashvili.
The number of ATMs in Georgia is 2,077; 96 units more than it was last year. Contrary to ATMs, the number of POS-terminals has increased by 3,070 units during a one year interval. There are 17,050 POS-terminals in Georgia, up from the 13,980 of the previous year’s figures.
In Melashvili’s words, Georgians are increasingly using electronic payments: payment cards, electronic money, internet banking or mobile banking. Accordingly, NBG is interested in making them more safe, comfortable to use and secure. “In this regard, we are working on the relevant rules of consumer protection and electronic payment instruments,” he said.
In Melashvili’s words, the main advantages of non-cash are: security, as it reduces the risk of carrying cash; convenience - unlike cash it is easy to carry, secure while travelling or is not required to carry at all; time-saving - you can order goods and services over the internet from your very home; you have operational control of account transactions via sms, online, mobile banking and other remote sources; also, you are able to participate in various promos and discounts.”