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Press Release on the 2015 Report on Payment Systems

Banco de Portugal releases today the Report on Payment Systems for 2015.

The report presents the main facts and figures on the operation of payment systems in Portugal, and summarises the activities carried out by Banco de Portugal in this field.


Retail payments grew in value and volume, reflecting the trend of private consumption in Portugal. Recourse to electronic payments rose further, particularly for international purchases, in line with tourism growth in Portugal.

In 2015 SICOI – the system that handles retail payments in Portugal – processed 2,205 million transactions, to an amount of EUR 358 billion, 4.8 per cent and 5.5 per cent respectively more than in 2014, reflecting a rise in private consumption.

The use of cheques declined further: 11.1 per cent in volume and 8 per cent in value. There was also a substantial decline in the number of entities included in the List of Cheque Defaulters managed by Banco de Portugal: as at 31 December 23,124 entities were in this list, 24 per cent less than in 2014.

Recourse to electronic payment instruments continued to increase. In 2015 SICOI processed:
• 1,885.6 million Multibanco transactions, to an amount of EUR 99.4 billion, 6.4 per cent and 5.1 per cent respectively more than in 2014. The main type of transaction were purchases, which corresponded to 47 per cent of the volume of transactions and 35 per cent of their value. International purchases, in particular, increased considerably from 2014: 23.3 per cent in volume and 15.9 per cent in value, reflecting tourism growth in Portugal;
• 121.8 million credit transfers, to an amount of EUR 174.4 billion, 3.1 per cent and 13.4 per cent respectively more than in the previous year.

SICOI processed fewer direct debits (reductions of 6.6 per cent in volume and 5.4 per cent in value), as a result of Portugal’s integration into SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area), which allowed a number of domestic creditors to start making their collections through foreign banks.

Portugal is the euro area country with the most card payments, as a percentage of GDP.
In 2014 Portugal was the euro area country with the most card payments as a percentage of GDP (35.5 per cent, considerably above the euro area average of 13.4 per cent).

Contactless card transactions grew by more than 900 per cent, both in volume and in value (5.7 million transactions, totalling EUR 73.6 million). Nevertheless, there is room for further improvements in the use of these cards: although at the end of 2015 34 per cent of payment cards in Portugal already had contactless technology, contactless transactions accounted for only 0.7 per cent of the volume and 0.2 per cent of the total value of purchases.

Payment instruments in Portugal are highly reliable and the payments market in Portugal is in line with best international practice.

Returned, rejected or revoked retail payment transactions were increasingly residual (0.11 per cent of the volume of card transactions, 0.13 per cent of credit transfers, and 0.4 per cent of cheques). Insufficient funds continued to be the main reason for rejected and returned payments. 

In 2015 Banco de Portugal assessed the technological infrastructure of SIBS Forward Payment Solutions, S. A., which provides critical services to the Portuguese payments market. It concluded that this infrastructure follows best international practice.

The holders of co-badged cards (which are a significant part of cards in Portugal) will be able to choose at Point of Sale (POS) terminals the brand associated with the card that they consider most convenient for each payment.

In 2015 legislative changes were introduced that will significantly change the rules applicable to European retail payment systems and instruments.

Regulation (EU) 2015/751 of the European Parliament and of the Council on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions introduced limits to interchange fees applicable to debit or credit card transactions in the European Union, with the purpose of rendering payment cards more competitive. 

As of 9 December 2015 there is a cap of 0.2 per cent for interchange fees (fees paid by the merchant’s bank to the card holder’s bank) applicable in debit card payments and of 0.3 per cent in credit card payments. 

A number of this Regulation’s provisions only entered into force on 9 June 2016. This is the case with the possibility of holders of co-badged payment cards (these are an important part of cards issued in Portugal) choosing, at POS terminals, the brand they intend to use for a specific payment.


The Portuguese component of TARGET2, one of the largest and safest payment systems in the world, processed 17 times the Portuguese GDP.

The Portuguese component of the trans-European large-value transfer system (TARGET2-PT) operated smoothly in the settlement of payments.

Over the course of its 256 operating days, EUR 2,892 billion were settled, totalling 1.8 million transactions.

TARGET2-PT processed an amount equal to 17 times the Portuguese gross domestic product in 2015. Nevertheless, the value and volume of transactions declined by 21.8 per cent and 4.3 per cent from 2014, as a result, respectively, of a fall in interbank activity and in the volume of transactions initiated by Interbolsa for securities settlement.

TARGET2 (the Eurosystem’s real-time gross settlement system) is, in terms of processed amounts, one of the largest payment systems in the world. Its main objective is to execute Eurosystem’s monetary policy operations and settle cross-border transfers across European credit institutions.

In 2015, in addition to the system’s regular monitoring, Banco de Portugal assessed TARGET2-PT for the first time in the light of the international oversight principles set out by BIS (Bank for International Settlements) and IOSCO (International Organization of Securities Commissions). It concluded that the system fully complies with the applicable requirements. 


On 29 March 2016 Portugal has successfully migrated to TARGET2-Securities, one of the Eurosystem’s most ambitious projects for economic integration in Europe, following intense preparatory work coordinated by Banco de Portugal.

In June 2015 the new European platform for the settlement of securities transactions – TARGET2-Securities (T2S) – entered into operation. This is one of the largest projects launched by the Eurosystem to date, and is instrumental for the creation of a single capital market in Europe.

The Portuguese securities market’s migration to T2S on 29 March was successful, following intense preparatory work coordinated by Banco de Portugal, in liaison with Interbolsa, enhancing Portuguese enterprises’ access to more diverse financing sources.

At the end of 2017 T2S will serve 21 European countries (for the moment it already includes seven countries) and will process almost 100 per cent of securities transactions in euro.

Lisbon, 30 June 2016