Cards and Payments Throughout Europe

Published: April 2012
No. of Pages: 78


  • More people across Europe are using their debit cards to live within their means rather than borrowing to fund their lifestyles. The debit card is becoming the payment method of choice throughout Europe
  • This VRL report investigates cards and payments throughout the key economies in Europe
  • It provides analysis of the main market trends in the UK, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Portugal
  • It examines the impact of Europe-wide initiatives that are impacting on the financial services sector


There is a war on cash in Europe. Used for 6 out of 7 payment transactions in Europe, cash is disliked by governments and financial services organisations alike as it is expensive to manufacture, administer and keep secure. Cash is also the currency of the black economy in Europe and costs governments billions in unpaid taxes alone. This is a particular problem in some of the economically-troubled southern European countries. In Greece, Italy and Spain, for example, tax evasion is estimated to amount to 30%, 25% and 20% of the overall economy, respectively. As these countries and others in Europe attempt to clear budget deficits, governments will be keen for consumers to migrate towards more formal and traceable payments systems such as cards, credit transfers and direct debits. Cash tends to be a more popular payment method in southern European countries, where it accounts for more than 70% of retail sales payments. In the majority of northern European countries, non-cash payments account for the majority of retail sales transactions, with 30% or less being made using cash.


  • This report provides an analysis of the cards and payments systems of key countries within the proposed SEPA area, with a particular focus on the main markets in Western Europe
  • It also provides an assessment of the progress that different types of payment cards have made in light of the progress to full European EMV implementation
  • The progress that contactless payments are making on the European payments market is also considered
  • Likewise the growth of e-commerce in the region

Reasons To Buy

  • There is scope for replacing the reliance on cash and cheques by encouraging the update and use of plastic cards, electronic transfers and new innovations in payments
  • Consider why it is that stakeholders in financial systems (including governments and financial service organisations) are keen to migrate consumers from the use of cash to more formal and traceable payment methods
  • Find out about the trials involving contactless cards and mobile handsets in Spain, Italy and the UK
  • Compare the popularity of various payment methods throughout Europe and realise just how fragmented the market has become

Key Highlights

  • There is a war on cash in Europe, which is used for 6 out of 7 payment transactions
  • European consumers hold an average of 1.5 cards each, and the latest data suggests that the number of payment cards in circulation is stable
  • The European payments market is fragmented and complex, with 9,900 monetary financial institutions, just under 8,000 of which operate in the Euro area
  • New product innovations such as contactless cards have not yet started to make an impact on low value cash payments across Europe

Published By: Timetric
Product Code: Timetric2620

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