The total volume and value of customers' non-cash payments executed by Latvian payment service providers (credit institutions, electronic money institutions, payment institutions, Latvijas Banka and the Treasury) reached 583.5 million and 219.5 billion euro respectively in 2021. This averages 1.6 million payments worth 601.4 million euro a day.
The total volume and value of non-cash payments made by customers increased by 6.2% and 21.5% respectively in comparison with 2020.
"The pandemic also overshadowed the economy in 2021, affecting nearly each and every sector, including that of payments. The opportunities offered by various modern payment technologies continued to expand at a robust pace, and the public was increasingly willing to use them," comments Emīls Dārziņš, Head of the Payment Systems Policy Division of Latvijas Banka. "The latest payment data provide an insight into the trends of another type of money – cash, i.e. dynamics of the number of ATMs suggest that the measures implemented in 2021 and the historical agreement on maintaining access to cash reached with the financial sector at the initiative of Latvijas Banka lead to a positive result, and access of Latvia's population to cash remains unchanged."
As in previous years, the most popular non-cash payments were card payments and customer credit transfers, constituting 63.7% and 34.5% of the total number of non-cash payments respectively.
To ensure card payments, 2.1 million payment cards were issued by Latvian payment service providers as at the end of 2021 (1.1 cards per capita on average), and most of them were cards with a debit function.
43.1 thousand points of sale (POSs) and 907 ATMs were available to the public. At the end of 2020, the number of customer payment accounts opened by Latvian payment service providers totalled 3.1 million or 1.7 payment accounts per capita on average.
29.2 million instant payments totalling 8.0 billion euro were executed in 2021. The share of instant payments made between Latvian credit institutions increased approximately to 26%, while their share in the payments between individual credit institutions even exceeded 75%. The number of active instant links contained in the Proxy Registry "Instant Links" went beyond 600 thousand, while their use reached 33.1 million requests in 2021.
A detailed report on the operation of interbank payment systems, development of payment instruments and other areas vital for non-cash payments is available on Latvijas Banka's website: https://www.bank.lv/statistika/dati-statistika/maksajumu-sist-statistika.
Latvijas Banka organises and maintains the payment system infrastructure in Latvia, including two fully automated payment systems helping to ensure interbank settlements in euro. TARGET2-Latvija is an interbank euro payment system, a component of the Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer System TARGET2. The Electronic Clearing System of Latvijas Banka (EKS) is used for handling retail payments.
In August 2017, Latvia became the first euro area country to introduce instant payments – innovative, up-to-date, instant interbank transfers available 24/7, including weekends and holidays. In the course of this short period of time, instant payments have been made available to more than 90% of credit institutions' customers and have acquired the status of interbank payments standard rather than that of an exclusive service.
In the summer of 2019, the general public learned about another innovative solution, i.e. the Proxy Registry "Instant Links", which enables interbank payments based on the payee's mobile phone number only without the need to know and enter the respective current account number for each payment. Currently, this opportunity is offered by AS Citadele banka, Swedbank AS, AS SEB banka and the major Estonian commercial banks, and the number of participants of the Proxy Registry "Instant Links" is expected to grow further.
Latvijas Banka has developed the Instant Payment Laboratory ZibLab++, an innovative cooperation platform, to help market participants to jointly address practical and technological issues, creating products and services that are based on instant payments and using proxies and offer such innovative products to their customers. The work of this laboratory will help the public at large, financial institutions and other stakeholders to follow the development of possibilities of instant payments, proxy service and instant payment request service, as well as other payment innovations based on the above opportunities and developments. For more details, see https://www.bank.lv/en/tasks/payment-systems/instant-payment-laboratory.
The introduction of instant payment requests at interbank level has been planned to be the next stage of the development of innovative payment services provided by Latvijas Banka.