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The Cards and Payments Industry in Bulgaria: Emerging trends and opportunities to 2020

The Cards and Payments Industry in Bulgaria: Emerging trends and opportunities to 2020

  • December 2016
  • 47 pages
  • ID: 4301615
  • Format: PDF
  • GlobalData
Up to $1650 off Until Nov 30th 2020


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The Cards and Payments Industry in Bulgaria: Emerging trends and opportunities to 2020


Consumers in Bulgaria are still predominantly reliant on cash, and payment cards are mainly used as a means to withdraw cash from ATMs. In 2016 cash accounted for 81.5% of the total payment transaction volume, with consumers frequently using cash for day-to-day, low-value transactions.

Bulgaria’s prepaid cards market registered significant growth during 2012-16. The overall number of prepaid cards increased five-fold from 30,112 in 2012 to 225,694 in 2016. In terms of transaction value, this grew from US$807,610 (BGN1.5m) to US$374.6m (BGN695.7m) during the same period. The rising demand for prepaid cards among the unbanked population, students, online shoppers, and travelers has supported this growth.

The frequency of use per card per year in Bulgaria stood at 30.1 in 2016, lower than neighboring Romania (36.6), Croatia (41.6), Hungary (67.1), Slovenia (60.8), Czech Republic (72.2), Slovakia (85.8), and Poland (108.0). An improving banking infrastructure, a gradual consumer shift towards card-based payments, rising acceptance of payment cards by retailers, and the advent of contactless technology are expected to increase the share of electronic payments over the forecast period (2016-20f).

Banking penetration grew steadily in Bulgaria to reach 69.8% in 2016, up from 56.4% in 2012. Concentrated efforts by the government, coupled with investment in payment infrastructure, led to an increase in the banked population. A rise in banking penetration is anticipated to drive demand for banking products such as current accounts and debit cards.

Debit cards remain the most-used payment cards among Bulgarian residents. In terms of transaction value, debit cards accounted for 88.0% of the overall payment card market. Economic uncertainty, unemployment, and low disposable incomes caused customers to spend more prudently during the review period of 2012-16, resulting in low use of credit cards. As the region recovers, however, customers are now gradually adopting credit cards. The number of credit cards in circulation recorded positive growth in 2014, following a five-year decline. Furthermore, the credit card transaction value recorded a significant 36.2% rise in 2014 over the previous year.

Contactless technology is expected to gain prominence among Bulgarian consumers. Banks and payment service providers are also keen to promote contactless technology, and are launching new services to increase its uptake.

The report "The Cards and Payments Industry in Bulgaria: Emerging trends and opportunities to 2020" provides top-level market analysis, information and insights into the Bulgarian cards and payments industry.

Specifically, this report enables the following -
- Current and forecast values for each market in the Bulgarian cards and payments industry, including debit and credit cards.
- Detailed insights into payment instruments including credit transfers, cash, direct debit and payment cards. It also, includes an overview of the country’s key alternative payment instruments.
- E-commerce market analysis.
- Analysis of various market drivers and regulations governing the Bulgarian cards and payments industry.
- Detailed analysis of strategies adopted by banks and other institutions to market debit and credit cards.

Companies mentioned in this report: DSK Bank, UniCredit Bulbank, United Bulgarian Bank, The Central Cooperative Bank, First Investment Bank, Bulgarian Postbank, Raiffeisen Bank, Visa, MasterCard, Borica


- Contactless technology is gaining traction in Bulgaria, with leading banks such as UniCredit Bulbank, DSK Bank, UBB, Fibank, and Raiffeisen Bank now offering contactless cards in the country. By the end of 2015, UniCredit Bulbank had issued 500,000 contactless cards. Of the 20,000 POS terminal installations by the bank, 12,000 were enabled with contactless functionality. In 2015, the bank equipped six Sofia Metropolitan stations with 10 unattended ticketing machines, all enabled for contactless payments. The rising adoption of contactless technology is anticipated to drive payment card transaction volumes.
- Banks in Bulgaria are now launching mobile wallets to offer convenient banking services to consumers. Fibank launched its mobile wallet in April 2016, equipped with NFC contactless and Mastercard’s certified Host Card Emulation (HCE) technology. Users can add their card details to the wallet for future transactions. In May 2016, Postbank launched the m-Postbank mobile wallet, allowing consumers to perform online transactions.
- Diners Club is expanding its presence in the country. The scheme partnered with DSK Bank in 2016 and Piraeus Bank in 2015. Previously, Fibank was the only bank in Bulgaria to offer Diners Club credit cards. To encourage card use, Diners Club card holders are offered benefits such as discounts, reward points, and cashback at retail outlets, free access to VIP airport lounges, and free medical travel insurance.

Reasons to buy

- Make strategic business decisions, using top-level historic and forecast market data, related to the Bulgarian cards and payments industry and each market within it.
- Understand the key market trends and growth opportunities in the Bulgarian cards and payments industry.
- Assess the competitive dynamics in the Bulgarian cards and payments industry.
- Gain insights into marketing strategies used for various card types in Bulgaria.
- Gain insights into key regulations governing the Bulgarian cards and payments industry.

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