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Press release of the Banco de Portugal on the Report on Payment Systems – 2021

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 2021 the Portuguese made retail payments amounting to €3.1 billion, a record high.

Payments via the Interbank Clearing System (SICOI) increased by 13.7% in volume and 12.5% in value from 2020. Following a decline in 2020 owing to the pandemic, these developments reflected the recovery in economic activity.

The greater preference for electronic payment instruments consolidated the trend already observed in previous years.

Transactions by payment card, direct debit and transfer (including instant transfers) increased by 13.9% in volume and 14.4% in value and accounted for 99.5% of total payments in 2021. 

The Portuguese continued to prefer cards for retail payments (excluding cash).

Cards represented 86.5% of total transactions (26% of the value). Card-based transactions rose by 15.2% in volume and 15.3% in value. However, instant transfers were the payment instrument that grew the most: 28.1% in volume and 49.6% in value, despite accounting for a small share in total transactions.

Direct debits grew by 2.6% in volume and 11.1% in value, and credit transfers increased by 8.6% in volume and 13.5% in value. 

In the card-based transactions category, there was a sharp rise in the use of contactless technology: 102.2% in volume and 130.9% in value. Online card purchases also increased — 47.1% in volume and 51.8% in value. 

Instant transfers sent and received from other European countries increased gradually.

In the first year of activity by Portuguese participants in TARGET Instant Payment Settlement (TIPS), Portugal was the seventh most active country, with 780 thousand transactions sent and received, totalling €1.1 billion.

The project to consolidate TARGET2 and TARGET2-Securities will be completed in November 2022.

In 2021 user testing began for the project to consolidate TARGET2 (the European large-value payment system) and TARGET2-Securities (a Eurosystem technical platform for securities settlement in central bank money).

The Portuguese component of the European large-value payment system — TARGET2-PT— processed 1.8 million transactions, amounting to €1.7 trillion, an increase of 10.3% in volume from 2020 and a decline of 2.1% in the value settled.

In 2021, 43% of the initiatives of the National Strategy for Retail Payments | 2022 Horizon had been completed.

Of the 42 initiatives, 18 had been completed and another 18 were already under way in 2021, while only six were scheduled to begin in 2022. 

The ECB launched the investigation phase of the digital euro project in 2021.

The aim of this phase is to establish models to issue and distribute a digital euro in order to minimise potential negative effects on financial stability. Work will extend into 2023.