Norges Bank has been compiling payment services statistics since the beginning of the 1980s.
From 1987, these statistics were regularised and made a key part of the information contained in the Annual Report on Payment Systems. The reports and the documentation underlying the statistics for each year are the primary sources for the historical payment statistics presented here.
The statistics have changed considerably over the years, both technically and in terms of content. During the initial years, the compilation of statistics was simpler and less comprehensive than is the case today. At the same time, the types of payment instruments on offer and the payment habits of the public and of businesses have changed substantially over the past three decades. While thirty years ago, cheques, paper-based giros and cash were in frequent use, new instruments have taken over, with electronic payment systems generally supplanting paper-based solutions.
Changes in payment patterns have made it demanding to compile long statistical series. One difficulty is to determine when, and as from what date, to include a new instrument in the statistics, given the possibility that the instrument may not grow in use. Another difficulty is to determine the date for when to stop compiling statistics for instruments as they near the end of their life cycle. Sometimes there are also changes to instruments and services in use. Consequently, the data are not fully comparable over time, and re-categorisation may be necessary. This has resulted in varying starting and end points for the various statistical series. For the oldest portion of the statistics, there are shortcomings/gaps in the data. These have been replaced in part by estimates, rendering the figures somewhat uncertain.
The statistics as they are presented here have been subject to some compromises, which is why they do not fully agree with all other statistics in other sources for the theme concerned. It was also necessary to adjust some numerical quantities in the statistics compared with those published in previous annual reports, primarily because the data were subsequently revised.
Some clarifications regarding statistical material and assumptions underlying them appear in footnotes to the tables. More comprehensive explanations and information regarding sources may be found in the document "Guide to the tables".
Statistics that concern general data, means of payment in Norway and "other statistics" until end-2005 have been compiled by Norges Bank, while "other statistics" as from 2006 have been compiled by Statistics Norway. Norges Bank has received valuable assistance from Statistics Norway in compiling other older historical statistics.