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EghtesadOnline: A review of electronic transactions processed during the last calendar month (Jan. 20 - Feb.18) showed that businesses have almost returned to the pre-COVID era in both the volume and value of transactions.

First cases of coronavirus in Iran was reported in the corresponding month last year. Data released by Shaparak -- the nationwide electronic payment network- indicates that the number of transactions increased 27% in the month to Feb.18 compared with the same month in 2020. 

Close to 2.93 billion transactions worth 5,091.31 trillion ($20.36 billion) were processed via Shaparak in the month, the highest in the past two years, according to data compiled by the Eghtesad News website. 

Shaparak website said there was a 57.03% hike in transactional value compared to the corresponding period last year -- largely due to mounting consumer price inflation. 

However, the annual value of transactions too posted a rise when adjusted for inflation. The real value of transactions rose 5.97% during the month compared with the corresponding month last year.

On a monthly basis, the figures indicate 5.01% and 11.59% rise in volume and in value, respectively. 

Increase in the number of payment instruments could be one reason behind the surge in transactions. But the upsurge is partly indicative of the fact that the downturn emanating from corona lockdowns has faded and businesses are gradually returning to normal.  

Data indicates that more than 90% of transactions in the  month were via small payments of less than 5 million rials.  

Spread of the deadly disease worsened conditions across the spectrum of businesses in Iran over the past year. The pandemic hurled economies big and small into recession. 


Payment Instruments 

Payment services are offered via three main instruments, namely internet, cell phone and point-of-sale terminals.

According to the report, the total number of receiving instruments rose 0.29% compared to the month before to reach 12.57 million.

The rise is mainly attributed to internet payment gateways and mobile instruments, which respectively increased 4.64% and 0.32% in number compared to a month before. The number of POS devices experienced a 0.4% fall during the period.

The Central Bank of Iran's move to block "unidentified" POS terminals to fight tax evasion is one reason for drop in number of the payment instrument in the month. 

In terms of market share, POS devices were at the top with 75.95% share. Internet payment gateways came next with a share of 12.56% followed by mobile instruments at 11.49%.

In terms of volume and value of transactions processed via each receiving instrument, POS devices as usual had the lion’s share, accounting for 89.72% and 86.36% of the total volume and value. 

More than 2.63 billion transactions worth 4,396.79 trillion rials ($17.58b) were processed via POS during the month. Online gateways were next accounting for 6.53% of the total transactions and mobile instruments represented 3.75% of the total transactions.


Payment Services 

In terms of services offered by Shaparak, data show that during the month under review, 86.9% of the transactions were conducted for “buying goods and services. “Buying cellphone recharges and paying bills” was in second place, accounting for 8.26% of the services and 4.85% of the transactions for “checking account balances.” 

As for penetration rate of the receiving instruments, there were 2,070 instruments per 10,000 adults (above 18 years old) in the country during the month.

POS devices had the highest and mobile instruments the lowest penetration rates by the end of the month to February 18, with 1,572 and 237 instruments per 10,000 adults, respectively.

During the period, there were 1.94 million active POS devices operating in Tehran Province, showing a subtle 0.01% monthly rise.

This was followed by Khorasan Razavi and Isfahan provinces with 729,252 and 664,411 active devices, respectively. The lowest number of POS devices was reported in Ilam Province, which had 67,893 POS machines in operation.


Iran E-Commerce Electronic Transactions