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The number of operations with electronic means of payment tripled between 2019 and 2023

Thursday, 29 February 2024 11:37

In the last five years, the use of electronic means of payment in Ecuador has increased by companies and citizens, reflecting greater confidence in this means of payment, which offers benefits such as greater security and efficiency, compared to traditional physical means of payment such as cash and check.

In 2023, the main method of electronic payment was electronic transfers. Through the interbank payment system (SPI) administered by the Central Bank of Ecuador (BCE) and the real-time payment system administered by the private sector, a total of 228 million interbank transfers were channeled, for an amount of USD 191.21 billion, which is equivalent to 1.6 times the GDP of Ecuador (Figure 1). This reflects an increase of 168% in the number of operations and 63% in the amount compared to 2019.

 grafico1 29 02 2024

Source: Central Bank of Ecuador

Likewise, in 2023, the number of real-time interbank transfers increased tenfold compared to 2019, going from 9.7 million transactions in 2019 to 99.9 million in 2023. Similarly, the total amount channeled through this system grew seven times in the same period (Figure 2).

grafico2 29 02 2024

Source: Central Bank of Ecuador

It is important to note that, in August 2021, the Central Bank of Ecuador proposed the elimination of the USD 0.22 fee for receiving interbank transfers, in order to promote digital payments on a national scale. This measure has generated savings for citizens of USD 105 million since its approval in 2021 to date.

On the other hand, other electronic means of payment such as credit, debit and prepaid cards are also highly used by citizens. In this sense, by December 2023, credit cards channeled the largest number of operations with 201 million transactions and an amount of USD 14.71 billion (Figure 3). Likewise, between 2021 and 2023, an increase of 33% in invoicing and a 40% increase in the number of transactions through credit cards was observed.

grafico3 29 02 2024

Source: Superintendency of Banks

In relation to debit cards, during the same period there was an increase of 58% in the number of transactions and 44% in the total amount (Figure 4). In the case of prepaid cards, although their transaction rate is still low compared to other means of payment, their growth rate was considerably high during the last year, with 169% in amount and 60% in the number of transactions with respect to 2022 (Figure 5).

grafico4 5 29 02 2024

Source: Superintendency of Banks

This increase is also reflected in the transfers made by the National Government to citizens, for the Human Development Bonus (BDH) granted by the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES). Thus, in 2023, the number of transactions carried out for the BDH through the Interbank Payment System was of 3.7 million operations, nine times higher than the operations carried out in 2019 (Figure 6).

grafico6 29 02 2024

Source: Central Bank of Ecuador

As in previous cases, the amount collected for payments of basic services  (electricity, water and telephone) increased by 23% in 2023 (Figure 7). It is worth mentioning that, in recent years, there has been a marked decrease in the payment of these services through the use of physical means of payment such as counters and non- banking correspondents, which decreased by 8% and 18%, respectively, during the last year in number of operations (Figure 8).

grafico7 8 29 02 2024

Source: Central Bank of Ecuador

The Monetary Policy and Regulation Board and the Central Bank of Ecuador reaffirm their commitment to continue promoting reforms to encourage electronic means of payment, and to implement a monetary education plan that disseminates the benefits of the digitalization of financial services for households and businesses in the country.