The Spanish payments landscape – A detailed analysis

The latest Digital & Card Payment Yearbooks, offers a comprehensive overview of the Spanish payments and it significant transformations in recent years, driven by advancements in technology, consumer behaviour shifts, and regulatory changes.

The COVID-19 pandemic notably accelerated the adoption of digital payments, setting the stage for further innovations and increased competition among traditional banks and fintech companies.

Rise of Mobile Payments and Digital Wallets

One of the most remarkable trends in Spain’s payment landscape is the rise of mobile payments and digital wallets.

By the end of 2022, mobile payment solutions like Bizum had over 25.3 million registered users and were accepted at more than 52,400 establishments.

Mobile payments in face-to-face purchases reached 18% in transaction amounts and 22.9% in the number of operations, highlighting a significant shift from traditional payment methods​​.

Expansion of Contactless and Cardless Payments

Contactless payments have become increasingly popular in Spain, driven by the widespread use of NFC technology.

By mid-2023, more than 91 banks and payment providers in Spain supported Google Pay, underscoring the move towards digital wallets and contactless payments.

Samsung Pay’s launch of Samsung Wallet in 2022, which consolidates payment, loyalty, and gift cards into a single app, exemplifies this trend​​.

Impact of PSD2 and Open Banking

The implementation of the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) has been a game-changer for the Spanish payments industry.

PSD2 has facilitated the emergence of open banking, allowing third-party providers (TPPs) to offer innovative financial services.

As of 2022, nine TPPs and 116 foreign TPPs could connect to Spanish banks using open banking APIs.

This has opened up the market, enabling new entrants to provide account information services (AIS) and payment initiation services (PIS), thereby increasing competition and enhancing consumer choice​​.

Market Dynamics and Major Players

Spain’s payment market is characterized by a mix of traditional banks and fintech companies.

Major card issuers include Grupo CaixaBank, Grupo Banco Santander, BBVA, Banco Sabadell, and Bankinter.

These banks have been at the forefront of digital payment innovations, offering a wide range of services from mobile banking apps to digital wallets.

For instance, BBVA was the first Spanish bank to launch its own AISP service in 2018, allowing customers to view products held with other providers through its mobile app​​.

With a population of 47.61 million, Spain has 94.94 million total cards in circulation, including 44.46 million debit cards and 44.43 million delayed debit/credit cards, averaging 1.99 cards per capita​​.

Legal and Regulatory Framework

The legal framework for payment services in Spain is heavily influenced by European regulations, including PSD2 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

These regulations aim to promote secure and efficient digital payments while safeguarding consumer data.

The Spanish government has also implemented measures to limit cash transactions, further encouraging the use of digital payments.

In 2017, a new regulation came into force limiting cash payments to €1,000, down from the previous limit of €2,500​​.

Emerging Trends and Future Outlook

The future of payments in Spain is set to be shaped by several emerging trends.

The adoption of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) is one such trend, with ongoing research and development in this area.

Additionally, the use of biometric authentication and QR codes for secure transactions is expected to grow.

The continued development of mobile banking apps that integrate account management, personal finance tools, and digital payment services will further enhance the convenience and security of digital payments for Spanish consumers​​.

Card payments accounted for 9.13 billion transactions worth €313.05 billion, and the country had 3,911,670 POS terminals by mid-2023.

ATM withdrawals totalled 760.2 million transactions worth €137.1 billion​​.

Additionally, digital account-to-account payments included 2,115.4 million credit transfers valued at €5,883.4 billion and 2,097.4 million direct debits worth €635.3 billion​​.

Spain’s ability to adapt to new technologies and regulatory changes ensures its payment landscape remains competitive and innovative, setting a benchmark for other countries in the digital payments’ domain.

Key Statistics

Population: 47.61 million
Cards per Capita: 1.99
Total Cards: 94.94 million (Debit: 44.46 million, Delayed debit/credit: 44.43 million)
Card Payments: 9.13 billion transactions worth €313.05 billion
POS Terminals: 3,911,670
ATM Withdrawals: 760.2 million transactions worth €137.1 billion
Digital A2A Payments: Credit Transfers: 2,115.4 million transactions worth €5,883.4 billion; Direct Debits: 2,097.4 million transactions worth €635.3 billion.

The Digital & Card Payment Yearbooks provide the latest data on the European and Eurasian digital payment and card payment markets at granular country and regional level.

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