Card payments overtake cash in South Africa

Card payments overtake cash in South Africa

South Africa’s First National Bank (FNB) reports today that monthly non-cash purchases by its customers in its Consumer Segment have surpassed cash withdrawals at its ATMs by R800 million (about US$80 million).

The dominance of card over cash is very new in the financial services sector, the bank said, adding that two years ago, FNB Consumer Segment customers withdrew R1.3bn (about US$130 million) more in cash than the value of card purchases.

Across the industry card-based spend has been increasing at 38% per annum while ATM withdrawals have increased by 22%, showing the more rapid growth of card and cashless transactions during the past 12 months, FNB, a division of First Rand Bank Limited, said.

“Viewing the difference between ATM withdrawals and card transaction values give us a clear view of consumer trends,” Irlon Terblanche, CEO of FNB Core Banking Solutions, said in a statement.

Terblanche believes this trend is set to accelerate as the number of the card acquiring devices increases and customers seek to transact via cards where no fees are payable per transaction.

“Customers are also making much smaller value purchases via a card. Some customers are making purchases for R30 (US$3), or even less,” he said.

Consumers are showing a preference for cards even as FNB offers free ATM withdrawals, he added.

Terblanche also said FNB was encouraging cashless purchases.

“We made card swipes free across all our pricing options to cut the costs of daily transactions. At the same time, we are offering eBucks rewards in ways that encourage cashless purchases,” he explained.

The bank seems to believe that this festive season will see no increase in cash usage and that a further decline in cash usage will become obvious in 2014.

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