Pandemic impacting on cashless payments

In 2020, use of debit cards issued in Germany for card payments increased by 25% on the previous year, as evidenced by the latest figures of the Bundesbank’s Statistics on Payments and Securities Trading, Clearing and Settlement. This rise is attributable exclusively to transactions concluded with domestic counterparties; payments with cards issued in Germany and settled by foreign counterparties declined slightly on account of the pandemic. In terms of value, the growth in debit card payments totalled only 15%, bringing them to just under €268 billion, as cards were increasingly used to pay for smaller sums.

A total of 26 billion non-bank customers’ cashless payment transactions, worth a combined €61 trillion, were processed by German payment service providers in 2020. This is equivalent to an 8% rise in the number of transactions and a 3% increase in their value, compared with 2019.

Alongside card payments, the number of direct debit payments also went up, rising by just under 6% to 11.6 billion, while credit transfers climbed by 3% to roughly 7 billion. The number of cheque and e-money payments sank drastically; they play only a subordinate role in Germany. The value of these transactions is largely determined by credit transfers, the value of which rose by 4% in 2020 to €57 trillion. The value of direct debits declined by just under 7% to €3.2 trillion.

The use of cards issued in Germany at ATMs operated by German payment service providers decreased very considerably in 2020, dropping by just under 22% to 1.6 billion withdrawals. The value of these withdrawals, however, fell by only 11% to €341 billion, meaning that the average amount withdrawn rose from €192 to €217. Conversely, the use of such cards at point of sale terminals run by domestic payment service providers increased by almost 16% to 4.9 billion payments. The value of these transactions, however, climbed by a mere 4% to €243 billion, equivalent to an average of €49 per card payment. This amount has fallen by a further €5 on the previous year as a result of more frequent card usage, including, in particular, as the preferred means of payment in retail sales during the pandemic.