VILNIUS - Lithuania's payment card market grew by 12.2 percent during the first nine months of 2004 and 23.8 percent year-on-year, according to nine-month data released last week.
The number of different cards issued by local banks reached 2.5 million, while aggregate turnover amounted to 10.7 billion litas (3.1 billion euros) as of Oct. 1, a rise of 34.7 percent year-on-year.
Local bankers predict that the 2005 market will see a boom in microchips and credit cards, which will slowly replace payment cards.
In January commercial banks put the combined figure of payment cards issued at 2.3 million, up from 2.09 million as of Oct. 1, 2003. In early October payment card users could withdraw money at 1,006 ATMs, up 35 percent from a year ago, and could make settlements with cards at some 13,900 trade and other outlets.
"I believe that all banks will pay more attention to credit cards next year, and this will be the most significant event on the payment card market in 2005. The first to use the opportunity will be the winners," said Vitalijus Rancevas, director of Hansabankas' payment card department.
Hansabankas, which held 32.75 percent of the total payment card market as of early October, issued 848,200 active payment cards, a rise of 10.5 percent year-on-year. A year later the bank ceded the top position in this segment to Vilniaus Bankas, which put the number of its active payment cards at 865,900 (a rise of 22.9 percent), or 33.43 percent of the market. However, in pursuit of a higher level of card security, Hansabankas modified its card accounting method and opted to activate all new cards at the moment of customer transfer.
"Next year the card market will be dominated by microchip cards, while the credit card market has the strongest potential. The rise in the number of cards, meanwhile, will be stable, and we do not envision any significant changes in this regard," said Saulius Kiskis, director of Vilniaus Bankas' payment card department.
Snoras Bank retained the third ranking on the market with 500,200 cards, a rise of 41.9 percent from a year ago, while Nord/LB Lietuva was fourth with 297,800 cards, a rise of 45.4 percent.
Parex Bank, which previously reported the number of cards ever issued to customers instead of active cards only, announced that 14,200 payment cards were used actively as of Oct. 1.