ATM Cash Withdrawals Losing Popularity among Georgians

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The FINANCIAL — The number of plastic cards in Georgia is twice that of the population. The number of debit and credit cards in circulation has hit new records in Georgia, amounting to 7,813,722 as of March 2015.

The number was 6,764,133, or 15% less, during the same period of last year. With a constant increase of debit card holders in the country, the annual comparison has shown a reduction of credit card holders. Transactions made with payment cards amounted to 9,725,309 units, with a total value of GEL 1,114,431,000. The number of transactions via POS terminals made up 54%.

In total, 6,378,004 debit cards were issued in Georgia as of March 2015, up from 5,307,015 from the same period of last year. With over 3.8 million, Visa Inc. continues to maintain positions of leadership on the Georgian plastic cards market.

The total number of transactions amounted to 9,725,309 units, worth GEL 1,114,431 thousand, as of March 2015. The number of transactions was 7,842,235 units as of March 2014, worth GEL 926,291,000. Despite the increasing number of plastic cards, the majority of cardholders tend to prefer to withdraw money from ATMs. The trend started changing from July 2014. From this point onwards, payments via POS terminals started exceeding the numbers of instances of cash withdrawals. According to the latest figures, the number of transactions via POS terminals makes up 54.54%.

The number of transactions by payment cards issued by residents via ATMs reached 4,229,699 units as of March 2015, up from the 3,721,600 units of March 2014. 5,074,112 is the number of transactions made via POS terminals in 2015, up from 3,502,008 from the previous year.

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Transactions via the internet have increased in 2015. The total value of transactions was GEL 84,517,000, or 1,451,274 units, up from GEL 40,068,000, or 984,409 units, as of March 2015.  

The number of ATMs in the country as of March 2015 is 2,096 units, and the number of POS terminals at sales points/service facilities and bank branches and service centres exceeds 20,000 units. While the number of POS terminals has been rising from month to month, the amount of ATMs is characterized by a decreasing trend. There were 19 ATMs more in March 2014, than there are currently. As for POS terminals, the number has increased by 3,285 more units this year, than there were in March 2014.

A total of 15 commercial banks operating in Georgia are engaged in payment cards issuing and acquiring activities. The three main card systems that operate in the country are: Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

“Modern technological development makes the national payment system more varied,” says NBG’s annual report. “The number of companies who are engaged in payment services has increased in Georgia due to the new law about Payment System and Payment Services which was introduced in 2012. Traditional as well as new participants were represented on the payment market in 2013, which include commercial banks, micro financing organizations, remittance entities and other providers of payment services, who provide payment services as a result of registration at National Bank of Georgia,” the report says.

“The development of internet technologies and e-commerce has also contributed to the development of innovative services. Internet and mobile payment providers were registered at National Bank of Georgia in 2013. In addition, networks of self-pay kiosks are actively used by people and the share of their payments make up a large part of electronic payments in general. Electronic money has appeared, which has also contributed to the development of the payment system in Georgia. More foreign companies are expressing their interest in the Georgian payment market as time goes by,” says the report.

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“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.

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.”


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