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EghtesadOnline: An estimated 122.6 million bank cards were used at least once in the eight months of the current fiscal year that started in March, the company (Shaparak) in charge of supervising the domestic payment network said Sunday.

The number was up 1.44% on the month before when it was 120.9 million. Bank Melli Iran, owned-by the government, topped the list with 21.87%.

Bank Mellat and Bank Saderat Iran were next with 11.6% and 10.89%, respectively.

Banks in Iran issue three types of cards, debit, credit and gift cards. Debit cards are the most used with 95.20% share (116.8 million) of the total active cards.

More than 22.1% of the debit cards were issued by Bank Melli followed by Bank Sepah 12.3% and Bank Mellat and Bank Saderat Iran each at 11%.

Use of credit cards increased 12.9% to 0.33% of the total cards during the month. According to Shaparak, 408,725 credit cards were used at least once in the month.

Bank Melli was the issuer of 66% of the credit cards, followed by Bank Sepah 13.2% and Bank Mellat 8%.

Private banks are averse to issuing credit cards. As per Shaparak data, credit cards have never been issued by at least 10 banks, mostly private lenders. The Central Bank of Iran says it is working to promote credit cards as a resourceful and accessible alternative to microloans. Banks pay huge amounts in controversial loans to big businesses and vested interests, but small loans are few and far between accounting for a meager part of the total lending.

The payment company said 5.47 million gift cards were used at least once during the month to Nov 22.  More than 18.3% of such cards were issued by Bank Mellat. Bank Melli Iran and Parsian Bank were next with 12.6%.

Transactions processed by the electronic card payment network increased 11.86% on a monthly basis to 6,677 trillion rials ($23.8 billion) in the month.

More than 3.28 billion retail payments were processed in the month up 0.29% on the earlier month.

Compared to the same period last year, the numbers show a 52.46% jump in the value of transactions and up 18.9% in volume year-on-year.

The sharp increase in value is linked largely to the high and rising consumer prices. When adjusted for inflation, the real value of transactions rose 9.19% during the month. On YOY basis, the real value of transactions increased 12.4%.

The overall goods and services Consumer Price Index in the 12-month period ending Nov. 21 increased 44.4% on the same time last year.


Debit Card