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Revenue from payment services edges up in 2017

Hungarian financial institutionsʼ revenues from providing payment services neared HUF 503 billion last year, up 6% on the previous year, the National Bank of Hungary (MNB) said in an annual report on payment systems released Thursday.

Income from transaction fees accounted for HUF 124 bln and banksʼ management of financial accounts for HUF 96 bln of the total, state news wire MTI cited the report as saying. Comparing the number of electronic payments to proceeds from transactions shows that financial services for consumers became relatively cheaper, it added.

According to the MNBʼs report, 2017 was the year of a breakthrough in the use of contactless technology. In 2017 there were 412 million purchases made with contactless credit cards, more than two-thirds of all purchases, worth HUF 2.326 trillion, or around half of the total annual value.

The number of contactless purchases rose 65% in 2017 and their value doubled. Some 72% of bank cards and 83% of POS terminals now support contactless payment, the central bank added.

The bank noted that the efficiency of the Hungarian payment system is continuously approaching the EU average. With an expansion in the domestic payment card infrastructure and purchase turnover, significant development was seen both in retail electronic payments and in the field of electronic payment of utility bills and other service charges, the MNB observed.

The number of credit card fraud cases slightly increased in 2017, but this was well below the expansion in card turnover, so the use of cards became even safer, with contactless payment proving especially safe, the central bank said.

The MNB also noted, however, that prices of payment services, even excluding the price increasing-effect of the levy on financial transactions, remain comparatively high in Hungary compared to other countries. The ratio of fees applied depending on the number of transactions and the value of the payment order is high, which significantly increases the costs of electronic payments, it added.

This year the central bank is preparing a detailed analysis of the pricing of payment services and is initiating a dialogue with market participants to identify what steps could be taken for more favorable pricing for customers and encouraging the use of electronic transactions.

The MNB report noted that the regulation on instant bank payments was ready by the end of last year, and restated that it wants the instant payment system to be operational by July 1, 2019.