Barbadians carried out more debit and credit card transactions last year than they did in 2016.
In addition, the 2017 Financial Stability Report showed that residents performed more withdrawals from Automated Teller Machines (ATM) during the year under review.
“During 2017, the value of domestic payments continued to trend upward representing 620 per cent of gross domestic product. Electronic payments experienced strong growth and were the preferred payment choice, but cash based payments were still highly utilized, as evident by the value of cash removed from the automated teller machines and the increase of currency in circulation,” the 78-page report, which was released on Thursday, said.
Currency in circulation grew by 4.2 per cent to $602.9 million or 12.5 per cent of total money supply which, the report said, “echoed the growth in the value of ATM withdrawals”.
“Domestic payments via credit cards were up by 9.6 per cent in 2017, relative to a decline of 16.8 per cent in 2016. This rebound in transactional value was driven by the personal sector which accounted for 83 per cent of total transactions, while the business sector contributed 17 per cent,” it added.
There were 9.1 million debit card transactions last year, which represents an increase in transactional value of 6.1 per cent to reach $1.2 billion.
This, the report said, was driven by an uptick in both ATM and point of sale activity.
“For 2017 the value of ATM transactions grew by 3.3 per cent, which was consistent with the previous year growth of 3.1 per cent. Additionally, point of sale values continued to grow at a faster pace than ATM transactional values, recording an increase of eight per cent. However, this growth rate was lower than the increase of 11.3 per cent in point of sale values one year prior,” the report added.
The report, which was prepared by the Central Bank of Barbados and the Financial Services Commission (FSC), lauded the Caribbean Integrated Financial Services Inc. (CARIFs) and the Barbados Automated Clearing House Services Inc. for the increase use of electronic transactions, saying it “reflects the efficient roles” they performed.
The report added that cheque payments continue to be the largest contributor to transactions processed through the Automated Clearing House at 89 per cent, “although the trend appears to reflect accelerated use of direct payments”.
Cheque transactions across banks and with the Central Bank, minus those drawn and settled within the bank, increased by six per cent to $19.6 billion.
The report did not specify what months saw most of the transactions. Neither did it say what the level of overseas transacitons was.
Credit card debt outstanding grew at an annual average of eight per cent, increasing from approximately $93 million in the year 2000, to reach $347 million in 2017.
“However, while it accounts for only 5.8 per cent of total loans, credit cards debt outstanding and total loans generally exhibit a similar progression over the period,” the report said.
“During the period, total loans grew gradually at an annual average rage of five per cent, increasing from approximately $2.7 billion to $6.1 billion,” it added.
Of the total credit card debt outstanding at the end of last year 93 per cent of it is by individuals and seven per cent by the business sector.