The number of payment cards remarkably increased in 2015 following the large retail campaigns of the Lebanese banks to boost demand for alternative noncash payment methods. In fact, the number of outstanding payment cards increased by a yearly 13.24% to 2.75M in 2015. The share of total cards held by foreigners grew from 2.65% by December 2014 to 2.81% by December 2015. This modest improvement in foreigners’ share was witnessed in spite of the ongoing local and regional instabilities that took their toll on non-residents’ sentiment over 2015.
Debit cards remained the most preferred amongst cardholders, accounting for 50.44% of the total, as they were mainly destined for salaries’ domiciliation and daily use. Prepaid cards came in second with a 23.26% stake, followed by credit cards (20.69%) and charge cards (5.61%).
The progress of the cards’ retail market came in line with the 6.49% yearly increase in the number of ATMs that reached 1,707 by the end of last year. North Lebanon saw the highest increase in the number of ATMs (+10.26% y-o-y) to settle at 172 by the end of 2015, closely followed by Mount Lebanon that witnessed a 10.20% yearly growth in the number of cash dispensers to 551 ATMs during in 2015. However, Beirut remained the most concentrated with ATMs grasping 40.89% of the total.
As for Point of Sales (POS) devices, the number of contracts signed with merchants registered a 3.63% yearly uptick to 38,916, while the total number of machines (manual and electronic) grew by 5.19% y-o-y from 25,781 by December 2014, to 27,120 by December 2015.
Yearly Total Number of Outstanding Payment Cards