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Romania Cards & Payments Market Report

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  • Published Date: June 2017


A comprehensive overview of Romania's cards, payments and consumer banking market.
Economic growth in the country is among the highest in the EU, driven mainly by strong industrial exports and growing domestic demand.
The overall performance of the banking sector continued to improve in 2015 and 2016. Romania's retail banking market is dominated by five banks: Banca Comercialâ Românâ (BCR), Banca Transilvania, BRD-Groupe Société Générale (BRD), UniCredit Bank and CEC Bank.
Cash remains the predominant payment mode in Romania. Though card penetration has increased considerably, Romanians still use their payment cards for cash withdrawals rather than using them as a means of payment. Billed volume using payment cards at the POS stood at $11.2 billion in 2016, whereas ATM cash withdrawals reached more than three times that figure.


  • Cash remains the predominant payment mode in Romania. Cash withdrawals accounted for more than three-quarters of payment card billed volume in 2016.
  • The government introduced caps on cash payments in 2015 in an effort to encourage electronic payments in the country.
  • A law which will mandate merchants above a certain size to accept card payments is expected to be passed by parliament.
  • The Debt Discharge Law came into effect in May 2016, giving mortgage holders the right to extinguish their obligation in full by transferring ownership of the property to the creditor.
  • Banks, in response, increased the downpayment requirement on mortgages to as high as 45 per cent. Some banks later reduced this level, subject to new conditions.
  • Credit card profits recovered in 2015 as issuers managed to bring default rates under control. Strong growth in billed volume also boosted revenue.
  • Romania's credit cards market is characterised by a preference for cash advances and high rollover rates. Many cardholders use their cards to obtain cash loans.
  • Visa and Mastercard are neck and neck in terms of both credit and debit cards in issue. There is no domestic network operating in Romania.
  • Global Payments, through a joint venture with CaixaBank and Erste Group (parent bank of Banca Comerciala Romana), is the first major international acquirer to enter the market.
  • E-commerce is growing fast in Romania but cash-on-delivery still dominates as a payment method. There is great potential for the card industry to capture a larger share of the market in the coming years.

Romania Payments Research | Report Contents

Demographics and Economy:
Outlines the key metrics and trends which influence the development of retail banking and payments in the country:

  • Population structure
  • Income
  • Mobile and internet use
  • Economic data

Retail Banking
Explores the structure of the local banking system, its infrastructure and the leading players. Data includes:

  • Aggregate retail banking indicators
  • Bank branch, ATMs and POS terminals
  • The profitability of top banks

Consumer Finance
Overview of consumer finance in the country. Categories analysed include:

  • Mortgage loans
  • Personal loans
  • Credit card loans
  • Vehicle loans

Credit Cards
Industry-leading credit card coverage. We detail the past present and future of the industry through our data and commentary, including:

  • Market size split by consumer and commercial credit cards: number of cards, transaction volume, billed volume
  • Profit pool analysis
  • Competitive landscape: networks, issuers

Debit Cards:

  • Market size: number of cards, transaction volume, billed volume
  • Competitive landscape: networks, issuers

Prepaid Cards:

  • Market size: number of cards, transaction volume, billed volume

Romania Country Report | Selected Extracts

Demographics and Economy
The population of Romania has been declining since 2000. It reached 19.6 million at the end of 2016, a fall of 12% when compared to 2000. Of the total population, 49.1% were men and 50.9% were women. The trend is estimated to continue.

The Economy
Economic growth in Romania is among the highest in the EU. The country's economy is driven mainly by strong industrial exports and growing domestic demand. The country's main export partners include Germany, France, Turkey, Hungary and Italy.

Retail Banking
BCR is the leading bank by assets, with a market share of 16%, followed by Banca Transilvania with 13% market share. The top five banks accounted for 61.3% of the country's total banking assets at the end of 2016.

Consumer Finance Market
Romania's consumer finance market is relatively underdeveloped compared with European
standards. At the end of 2016, the ratio of total consumer credit to personal disposable income stood at an estimated 20%.

Cards market
Cash remains the predominant payment mode in Romania. The value of banknotes and coins in circulation as a percentage of GDP stood at an estimated 7.3% in 2016. The Romanian government and the NBR have been taking steps to reduce cash in circulation and encourage payment card use.

Some significant players offering online payment services in Romania include 2Checkout, Braintree, Paymill, Skrill,, GoCoin, and PayPal Express Checkout.

Profit Pool
In Romania, credit cards are generally positioned as a transactional instrument designed for shopping. Despite this marketing effort, customers use their credit cards predominantly for ATM cash advances, even though these transactions incur additional charges.

Card Networks
Visa and Mastercard dominate the Romania credit cards market; Mastercard narrowly leads the credit cards market with a share of 50.4% in terms of the number of cards, compared with Visa's 49.6% share. The Romanian debit cards market is fairly evenly split between Visa and Mastercard, with no national scheme in operation.

Key Retail Banks and Issuers
At the end of 2016, the top three players in the credit cards lending market, in terms of credit card outstandings, were Raiffeisen Bank, Credit Europe Bank and Banca Transilvania, together
representing an estimated market share of 51%.

Acquiring and Processing
Merchant acquiring in Romania is dominated by the country's largest banks, including BRD, BCR, Raiffeisen Bank and Banca Transilvania. Card processing and acquiring processing services are dominated by Romcard (previously an interbank organisation and currently owned by Wirecard, a German payment-processing solutions provider) and Euronet, a US-based payment processing solution provider.

Online Acquiring
Romania is one of the fastest-growing emerging markets for e-commerce in Europe. It is estimated that about 6.8 million Romanians shopped online during 2016.

Regulatory and Markets Information
Romania is the third country in the world whose banking system introduced 'display cards' to the market. A display card looks and functions almost exactly like a regular credit, debit or ATM card, but features an embedded LCD display and touch-sensitive buttons.


Reports include detailed market and competitor intelligence on payments cards, e-money, acquiring, retail banking, and consumer credit Europe. Analysts use primary and secondary source data and conduct in-depth interviews with senior industry executives and finance experts.

See more European country reports or explore cards & payments research reports for markets worldwide or view our latest reports.

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