Norges Bank

Press release

Sharp growth in use of electronic payment services

Norges Bank's Annual Report on Payment Systems 2002 shows that in 2002, for the first time, giros paid via PC/Internet outnumbered mail giros.

A total of 82 million payment transactions were completed over the Internet in 2002, an increase of 33 per cent compared with 2001. The use of paper-based services declined during the same period and the number of mail giros fell by 17 per cent.

Payment cards are Norway's most frequently used payment instrument other than cash. Payment card use rose by 16 per cent in 2002. In 2002, 517 million purchases of goods and services were made by payment cards in more than 80,000 terminals nationwide.

Electronic payment instruments are generally more cost-effective than paper-based instruments. Increased use of such instruments therefore reduces the costs of the payment system to the overall economy.

Increased use of cash withdrawals in connection with goods purchases
Cash withdrawals are made in connection with one-third of all goods purchases made by bank-issued payment cards. This is the most frequently used method of acquiring cash. A total of 147 million such withdrawals were registered in 2002, a 19 per cent increase over 2001. There was a slight reduction in the number of ATM withdrawals in 2002.

Decline in the use of over-the-counter services
The number of giros delivered at the counter and the number of cash withdrawals over the counter declined by 25 per cent from 2001 to 2002. In 2002, these kinds of transactions numbered 55 million.

A reduction in cash holdings
The public's average cash holdings fell for the third consecutive year. Holdings averaged NOK 41.7 billion in 2002, representing a 5 per cent reduction since the peak year 1999.

Prices for electronic services unchanged and limited price increase on paper-based services
Prices for electronic services aimed at the retail market have remained stable the last few years and did not increase in 2002. The rise in prices for paper-based services to the retail market levelled off from January 2002 to January 2003. The price for mail giros, which rose by 12 per cent, represented an exception.


The Annual Report on Payment Systems is an important part of Norges Bank's oversight of the payment system. The report for 2002 also provides a summary of important international events and focuses on events of significance for Norway. The report also deals with important events in Norway and the security of the Norwegian payment system.

The Report on Payment Systems is currently available in Norwegian on our website. The English version of the report will be published on our website under "Publications" later this spring. Statistics on prices are published in more detail on our website under "Statistics".


Press telephone: +47 21 49 09 30

Published 28 April 2003 10:00