Friday, November 11 2022 15:33
Karine Melikyan

Plastic cards` number exceeds 3 million in Armenia

 Plastic cards` number exceeds 3 million in Armenia

ArmInfo.By October 1, 2022, plastic cards number in Armenia reached 3.048 million (including co-badged ArCa-MIR cards and Russian MIR cards), with an acceleration  of y-o-y growth from 5.3% to 16.3%.

Moreover, among them co-badged  ArCa-MIR cards' number increased in y-o-y terms by 67.4%, and by  73.6%, for 9 months of the current year alone - reaching 11.740  thousand cards by October 1, and the high growth of these cards with  a trend of further acceleration of rates began to be observed since  March of this year. This is evidenced by the data of the Central Bank  of the Republic of Armenia.

Such growth of ArCa-MIR cards is explained by the influx of a huge  number of immigrants to Armenia, mainly from Russia, which began in  March, who, having moved, also moved their capital in order to  temporarily settle here with their families and register a business  until the outcome of the Russian- Ukrainian conflict and anti-Russian  sanctions is clarified , and with the announcement in the Russian  Federation in September of mobilization, a new influx of immigrants  followed.

In particular, out of the indicated number of ArCa-MIR co-badged  cards, most of them are debit cards of individuals - 10.503 thousand  pieces, and the remaining 1.237 thousand pieces, are payment cards of  individuals. It is noteworthy that in the y-o-y context, the  impressive 2-fold growth of debit co-badged ArCa-MIR cards was  accompanied by a decrease in settlement of ArCa-MIR by 28.2%. The  same dynamics was observed for 9 months of this year:  A 2-fold   increase in debit ArCa-MIR with a decrease in settlement of ArCa-MIR  by 23.1%.

But given the small share of ArCa-MIR cards in the total number of  cards (only 0.4%), Visa cards, as before, continue to be the driver  of the overall y-o-y growth, the growth rate of which accelerated  from 7.1% to 24.2%, reaching 1.412 million pieces, due to which the  dominant in general increased from 43.4% to 46.3%. MasterCard cards  increased more modestly in y-o-y terms, accelerating from 5.8% to  9.3%, amounting to 733,640 cards, the share of which in general  decreased from 25.6% to 24.1%. At the same time, ArCa local cards, on  the contrary, worsened the dynamics from 1.8% growth to 5.1% decline,  amounting to 726.737 thousand pcs, which reduced their share in total  from 29.2% to 23.8%. However, much higher y-o-y growth than Visa and  MasterCard was provided by other international cards (mainly HSBC, as  well as AmEx and Diners Club cards), with a sharp acceleration in  rates from 10.8% to 3.8-fold, reaching 175.163 thousand pieces, which  increased their share in total from 1.8% to 5.8%. In terms of total  number of cards, debit cards continue to dominate with an increase in  their share in y-o-y terms from 58.6% to 64.7% (1.973 million pcs),  followed by payment cards with an increase in share from 32.5% to  33.1% (1.010 million pcs), against which the share of credit cards  decreased from 8.9% to 2.1% (65.064 thousand pcs). Moreover, the  y-o-y growth in the number is observed for debit and settlement cards  - by 28.4% and 18.6%, respectively, while the number of credit cards  decreased by more than 3.5-fold. As before, Visa is the leader in  debit and payment cards, and MasterCard is only slightly ahead of  Visa in credit cards.

In the total number of cards, the share of microprocessing cards with  an NFC chip increased from 51.2% to 65.7%, or 2.002 million pcs.  (y-o-ygrowth of 60%), most of which is Visa cards (over 1.227 million  pcs).  The share of virtual cards also increased - from 1.3% to 2.6%  or 79.321 thousand pcs (a y-o-y decline of 9.7%), the number of which  in y-o-y terms increased  2.4-fold, and if earlier there were only  Visa-virtual cards, then from Q3 2022 MasterCard-visual cards also  entered. At the same time, the share of magnetic tape cards decreased  from 31.6% to 24.5% or 748.105 thousand pcs (y-o-ydecline by 9.7%),  and these are mainly local ArCa cards (711.505 thousand pieces). The  share of hybrid cards decreased from 15.9% to 7.2% or 218,395  thousand pcs (a y-o-y decline of 47.6%), and most of them are  MasterCard and Visa.

As the Association of Tour Operators inRussia (ATOR) stated in  October, now Armenia has become the leader in the segment of card  tours for Russians, noting that the prices of such a "card" tour to  Armenia are comparable to other countries. On average, a trip to  Armenia with a card will cost Russians from 50-55 thousand rubles for  two (excluding the cost of air travel).

It should be noted that the procedure for obtaining international  bank cards in Armenia varies in its complexity depending on the  internal risk management procedures in the banks themselves. As a  rule, it takes about 2-3 weeks to receive a card, due to the need for  the customer to fill out a certain questionnaire and double-check its  data. Basically, the applicant is required to prove the existence of  certain business interests and even business activity in Armenia.   According to ArmInfo analysts, over 7 months (March-September),  Armenian banks issued over 150,000 bank cards of Visa and Mastercard  international payment systems to immigrants." Thus, according to the  agency, only from March to September the number of Visa cards  increased by 192.3 thousand, and Mastercard cards - by 29.6 thousand.  Moreover, during these months the number of other cards of  international systems (AmEx, HSBC Card, DC) has increased by 124.6  thousand.  In total, over 3 million bank cards are in circulation in  Armenia, of which about half are accounted for by the Visa  international payment system.  Taking into account the dynamics of  growth in the number of cards in Armenia in previous years, analysts  believe that over a quarter of a million bank cards have been issued  by Armenian banks to immigrants and "card tourists" over the past 7  months.  Meanwhile, the Russian media noted that this fall, Russian  tourists had new reasons for issuing bank cards abroad, as Turkey and  other countries stopped working with the Russian MIR payment system.  This will increase the demand for card tours by 15-20%.

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