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ECB: the shape of European payments in 2014

European consumers are increasingly choosing non-cash payments, according to data from the European Central Bank (ECB). It found that, in 2014, the number of non-cash payments rose by 2.8% compared to 2013, to 103.2 billion.

Overall, card payments accounted for 46% of all non-cash transactions in the EU, credit transfers accounted for 26% and direct debits for 21%, although the use of each payment type varied widely across EU countries. The number of direct debits in the EU, however, fell by 6.6% to 21.9 billion in 2014, while the number of credit transfers is unchanged at 27 billion.

The graph below shows the steady downwards trajectory of cheques, compared to the increasing volumes of direct debits (despite the recent decrease), credit transfers and card payments over the period 2000-2014.

The ECB's report found that Europeans own on average 1.5 payment cards each, with a population of 509 million and 766 million cards in 2014 (an increase of 0.9% from 2013). The number of card transactions also rose by 8.8% to 47.5 billion, with a total value of €2.4 trillion.

The report also states that, in 2014, there were 42 retail payment systems in the EU, which processed 50 billion transactions worth €38.3 trillion. Twenty-three of the retail payments systems are in the eurozone. The ECB noted a 'notable degree of concentration in EU retail payment systems in 2014'. The four largest systems in terms of number of transactions (CORE in France, STEP2, BACS in the United Kingdom and RPS in Germany) processed 66% of the volume and value of all transactions processed by EU retail payment systems. The graph below shows the number and value of transactions processed by EU retail payment systems in 2014.

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