Since 2010, there has been a 35 percent reduction in the number of bank branches and a 14 percent decline in ATMs — proof that Finland is embracing digital transactions. Finns are also embracing contactless technology; there were about four million cards with contactless functionality in the market at the end of 2015, an increase of 111 percent on the previous year. The total billed volume made on contactless cards increased 667 percent while the number of transactions increased by 720 percent to reach 29 million.
Payment card use in general is extremely high; there were 1.5 billion card payments in 2016 – equivalent to 329 for every adult in the country. Cash is used for only about 30 percent of total retail sales. However, the proportion of cash usage is higher in Finland compared to other Nordic countries, such as Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
Debit cards are the most popular payment cards in Finland, with about 80 percent of card purchases (billed volume) being made using debit cards in 2016. The average transaction value on debit cards is just $29, indicative of the fact that Finns use their cards for everyday transactions.
With credit cards facing stiff competition from both a well-developed consumer loans market and debit cards, there is some pressure on issuers to offer competitive credit card products. However, as credit card ownership tends to depend on the customer’s overall banking relationship, competition among issuers is relatively weak.
According to the Bank of Finland, the country is expected to become a cashless society by 2029, if the current trend of using debit and credit cards continues.