RBR research reveals payment cards usage surges in Europe

According to research by RBR the amount of expenditure on European payment cards has grown by a third since 2014 to reach €3.9 trillion, as cards become an increasingly utilised tool within everyday life. 

Payment Cards issuing and acquiring Europe 2020, highlights that in 2018 cardholders in the UK, France and Germany spent the highest, with the total increasing by 26%, 19% and 22% respectively since 2014. The fourth largest market, Russia, saw spending double over the same period.

Thomas Madden, who spearheaded RBR’s Payment Cards Issuing and Acquiring Europe 2020 research, emphasised: “The increasing customer adoption of payment cards, as well as expanding acceptance networks across Europe, is helping drive the sustained growth seen in card expenditure.

“The rising use of debit cards, in particular, as the default payment method for many Europeans, has significantly boosted the amount they have spent on their cards in recent years.”

The RBR report also emphasised that growth in spending is inextricably linked to the ramp up of card usage. Greece stands out in particular, as card usage grew sevenfold, following widespread state-mandated card acceptance at many merchants. Unsurprisingly, the country also saw the fastest growth in spend, which almost quadrupled over the four-year period.

In terms of growth acceleration, Eastern European markets were the most substantial with Ukraine, Romania and Hungary spending more than doubling over the period. 

Recent surges in card spending across Europe can in large part be attributed to the growing adoption and acceptance of contactless payments, as well as increased online shopping.

The report underlined that cards were significantly becoming a deeper part of everyday life, with Europe as a whole increasing its number of transactions by nearly three times as fast as the rise in expenditure, with the result that the average value of each transaction continues to fall – from €46 in 2014 to just €34 in 2018. 

This is largely down to cards being increasingly used for everyday, low-value purchases, as customers rapidly adopt contactless and mobile payments. As a result, growth in the total number of card payments made by Europeans is accelerating year-on-year.