Continued strong growth in card payments

Cashless payment instruments in Germany were already being used more frequently in 2019, i.e. prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was evidenced by the latest figures of the Deutsche Bundesbank’s Statistics on Payments and Securities Trading, Clearing and Settlement. A total of 24 billion non-bank customers’ cashless payment transactions, worth a combined €61 trillion, were processed by German payment service providers. This represents an increase of 7% in volume or 8% in value compared with the previous year.

Card payments increased the most, by almost 19% to 6.3 billion, with debit card transactions accounting for the greatest share, at just under 5 billion. Their usage rose by 20% in 2019. In Germany, debit cards are frequently issued in the form of girocards. Credit cards with a delayed debit function and above all, credit cards with a credit function still play a fairly minor role in Germany. At 11 billion transactions, direct debits remain the most popular cashless payment instrument, followed by credit transfers, which account for just under 7 billion transactions. 

While cards issued by domestic payment service providers were used less frequently at ATMs operated by German payment service providers, the use of such cards at points of sale increased by 12% in 2019. The average value of the transactions ran counter to developments in the use of these cards. In other words, cash was withdrawn less frequently at ATMs, but the amounts withdrawn rose by an average of €7 to €192. By contrast, the increase in card usage at the point of sale was accompanied by a €4 decline in the average card payment amount down to €54. 
Cheque payments in Germany declined once more from a low starting level. Similarly, e-money payments remained relatively unimportant in Germany.

Based on the value of cashless payment transactions, credit transfers retained their leading position, rising by 9% and now accounting for €56 trillion. With a rise of 12%, card payments recorded the sharpest increase in terms of transaction value, too; however, at €350 billion, they continued to lag far behind credit transfers and direct debits. The amount attributable to direct debit transactions rose by 2% to just over €3 trillion, while the value of cheque payments decreased by 20% to €72 billion.