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Payment cards are devices allowing their holder to withdraw banknotes in ATMs and pay for goods and services in point of sale terminals or over the Internet.

Payment cards can be:


Debit cards

These allow holders to make a series of transactions in their payment accounts (e.g. current accounts), such as cash withdrawals, payments, enquiries and, depending on the network used, transfers. As a rule, when the card is used to carry out national transactions, the value is immediately debited from the balance of the associated payment account.


Credit cards (including delayed debit cards)

These allow for payments through a credit line (ceiling) that has been agreed on in advance with the issuing payment services provider.


Prepaid cards

As a rule, these make it possible to conduct the same transactions as debit cards. However, they are not associated with a payment account, rather to a prepaid account. The cardholder pays the card-issuing entity the amount available in the prepaid account in advance. When these cards are used, the value corresponding to the transaction is debited from the respective balance.


Dual or multi-function cards

These combine more than one of the above functions.



Evolution of card transactions



Card systems oversight is based on a series of general standards set out by the Eurosystem. These are the Harmonised oversight approach and oversight standards for payment instruments and the Oversight framework for card payment schemes (with the respective Guide for the assessment of card payment schemes against the oversight standards).

Banco de Portugal is responsible for assessing the operation of the national card system Multibanco, in the light of the above-mentioned standards.

With regard to international card systems (e.g. Visa, Mastercard and Amex), Banco de Portugal performs the oversight function by integrating working groups formed by the European Central Bank and other national central banks. 

Information for professionals


National standard for the batch processing of services’ payments and payments to the State

Banco de Portugal and the Portuguese banking community have jointly developed a tool allowing the batch processing of transactions in the context of the services’ payments and payments to the State as available in the Multibanco network. This solution now enables companies to submit several transactions through a single file, with a harmonized format to be used by the payment service providers.

This new format is described in the rulebook of the National standard for the batch processing of services’ payments and payments to the State (In Portuguese only).