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Press release of the Banco de Portugal on the Report on Payment Systems – 2020

Today, the Banco de Portugal publishes the Report on Payment Systems, which describes developments in payment systems in Portugal and the main projects for the years ahead.

In 2020 retail payments in Portugal declined by 9.2% in volume and 4.1% in value.

The Interbank Clearing System (SICOI), which processes most day-to-day retail payments, settled 2.7 billion transactions, amounting to €501.5 billion. After six years of growth, this decline was due to a contraction in consumption and economic activity in a year of pandemic.


Card transactions declined, mainly due to a decrease in cash withdrawals and in-person purchases.

This decrease stood at 21.4% in volume and 14% in value for cash withdrawals and at 8.5% in volume and 9% in value for purchases. Although the use of payment cards declined, they remained the most widely used payment instrument by the Portuguese.


Developments in retail payments were marked by changes in the consumption and payment behaviour of the Portuguese. 

One new habit has been online shopping, which grew considerably in 2020: 32.3% in volume and 9.6% in value. In December, online purchases accounted for 12.8% of the volume and 11.6% of the aggregate value of purchases made with cards issued in Portugal.   

Use of contactless payments surged in 2020. As regards in-person card purchases, the pandemic led to a strong increase in contactless payments, which grew by 163% in volume and 271% in value. In December, 32% of purchases in terminals were made using this technology.

Bank transfers also increased, largely because they allow payments to be made online, in particular instant transfers, which grew by 81.3% in volume and 50.4% in value. Credit transfers increased by 8% in volume and 3.5% in value.

Direct debits decreased by 5% in volume and 7.6% in value, as a result of the suspension of a number of services during the pandemic.

The use of cheques declined drastically, reinforcing the downward trend seen in the past few years: 27.9% in volume and 27.8% in value.


TARGET2-PT processed transactions equivalent to nine times the Portuguese GDP and it is now possible to make instant transfers to other European countries.

The Portuguese component of the European large-value payment system (TARGET2-PT) settled 1.6 million transactions, to the amount of 1.7 trillion.

In 2020 the Portuguese banking community was connected to the service provided by the Eurosystem for pan-European instant transfers (TIPS). 56 thousand transactions totalling EUR 85 million were sent and received.


The National Strategy for Retail Payments was announced in 2020.

The strategy was defined under the aegis of the Payment Systems Forum and aims to contribute to the adoption of secure, efficient and innovative payment solutions in the Portuguese market.