2012 saw transaction values within the Italian debit card market increase by 3% throughout the year, reaching a value of €91 billion.
In terms of circulation, the number of debit cards reached 41 million with an increase of 5% compared to the previous year.
Debit cards are the most preferred financial card in Italy as Italians are culturally averse to taking out credit. In addition, during the economic crisis, Italian consumers reduced their budgets and were more in favour of using their debit cards in order to better control their spending.
The increased security introduced by the chip and pin technology boosted the usage of debit and credit cards to make electronic payments. As a consequence of the credit crunch, banks made more restrictive requirements to issuing credit and charge cards.
In general debit cards are preferred in Italy by merchants compared to other cards as usually they have very low or no commissions; therefore in some places they still represent the only possible method of card payment.
The usage of debit cards is evolving in Italy, with local consumers becoming used to paying more frequently with their debit cards in order to purchase items instead of merely withdrawing from an ATM. They find it more convenient to carry less cash and at the same time, it is easier to keep track of their expenses, which is considered particularly important in times of crisis.
Italians are starting to see the advantages of using debit cards over cash. In fact, debit cards allow them to save time; no extra expenses as no fees are charged, guaranteed safer payment method, as well as allowing consumers to better monitor and control expenses. For these reasons, debit cards are gaining share over cash; however micropayments continued to be mostly made by cash.
The most important local operators for debit transactions in Italy are ABI - Associazione Bancaria Italiana, with value share of 85%, although Visa Europe and MasterCard International increased their share in Italy reaching 9% and 6% in 2011. The most important issuer for debit transactions in Italy is Poste Italiane SpA with value share of 27%, which is an increase from the previous year at 26%.
For more information on the Italian debit card market, see the latest research: Italian Debit Card Market
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