These are the findings of a major new report, the contents of which will be discussed in depth at Cardist 2011 – the fourth International Card and Smart Technologies exhibition and summit taking place in Istanbul in November.
Eurasia Insights – a leading research company specialising in the Eurasian economies – says that with large proportions of its population under the age of 30, widespread use of mobile phones and economies forecast to grow faster than other markets for years to come, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia are an obvious opportunity for financial services providers and cards issuers in particular.
However, there are significant problems to overcome – not least the effects of the credit crisis in 2008. Eurasian consumers are happier using debit cards than credit cards as a result of fears over credit repayments. Governments and regulators are understandably wary about encouraging their citizens to spend more and take advantage of credit offered by the banks. Even in Turkey where credit cards are more popular than elsewhere in Eurasia, campaigns to persuade people to spend money they already have in their accounts rather than using credit cards have been launched. The possibility of linking credit card limits to salaries is also being considered.
Eurasia Insights’ analysis of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) card markets reveals that despite the credit crunch that has afflicted spending volumes and bank lending over the past two years, the CEE region on the whole is continuing to embrace payment cards with enthusiasm.
High double-digit growth rates are the norm across the region in terms of the numbers of cards issued and card transaction numbers with more and more people using their debit cards in shops and businesses rather than just to withdraw cash.
Simon Hardie of Eurasia Insights said: “Two institutions in particular – UniCredit Group and Raiffeisen Bank International – have proven that a combination of regional focus and solid execution can reap rewards across many of the markets covered in this report. Others have established cards franchises in their home markets – Garanti Bank, Yapi Kredi (part owned by UniCredit) in Turkey, for example – that are proving hard to beat and are potentially being considered for export beyond their country’s borders. We hope both their success and this year’s report will give financial services providers an insight as to how this can be achieved.”
Among Eurasian countries, Poland and Turkey are leading the way in trialling and adopting modern payment technologies.
Since 2003, Turkey has had a contactless highway toll collection system in place, which has helped consumers to become familiar with the technology – and Turkey is now in the process of adapting public transport systems to accept contactless-enabled payment cards. The move to contactless technology in Turkey was facilitated by it being one of the first countries in Europe to begin the migration to EMV (“Chip and Pin”) technology.
Özgür Altuntaş, Product and Marketing Vice-General Manager at payments solutions provider SmartSoft, one of the sponsors of Cardist 2011, added: “Turkey is one of most innovative markets in the world in terms of banking infrastructure. Thanks to Turkish firms continuously investing in research and development, we are one of the fastest countries in terms of adapting to technology.”
Innovative programmes and trials ranging from loyalty schemes to contactless and mobile payment technologies will be showcased at the Cardist 2011 Summit. The event will also provide an opportunity for financial and telecommunications experts to discuss the future of payments in the region. More information is available at www.cardist.com.tr/en.