Contactless cards allow payments of up to 50€ in Finland / Lehtikuva


The crisis has also shaken up consumers’ payment habits. Cash withdrawals have nearly halved during the pandemic, while paying by card has gained ground in domestic purchases. Payment card data by OP shows that the average value of purchases by consumers has grown by 25 per cent, while non-travel related online shopping has increased by nearly a third.   

For nearly two months, Finns have practised social distancing to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The new situation is also clearly visible in payment habits.

Cash withdrawals from ATMs, bank branches and stores have nearly halved from the first quarter. At the same time, the use of payment cards in proportion to cash has increased, and the average value of card purchases has grown by 25 per cent. The statistics are based on data collected from the transactions of around 2.5 million cards, which covers most cards issued by OP.

‘Consumers have begun to plan their purchases ahead of time, and visits to the store are less frequent. Groceries and daily necessities are stocked to last for a much longer period of time,’ says Teemu Korte, Business Manager, Cards and Consumer Finance at OP.  

Social distancing is reflected also in e-commerce, where non-travel related card purchases have increased by 30 per cent from the first quarter. Instead of holiday trips, consumers now increasingly shop online for food and daily necessities as well as entertainment, electronics, clothing, sports gear, home decoration and other specialised products. 

Contactless payment has soared in popularity in the past few years, and some 60 per cent of all card purchases today are contactless. Contactless payment is a fast and secure method for paying purchases up to 50 euros.

‘Banks and retail chains would prefer to see customers switch increasingly to contactless payment, even as Finland is already among the top countries in Europe in contactless payment. In online shopping, paying by credit card is the safest option. It’s great to see consumers increasingly make use of added protection,’ Korte says.

Day-to-day spending on the rebound 

According to OP’s payment card data, spending is showing signs of returning to normal. This can be seen in the case of gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies, for example. Business is also busier for gardening and hardware retailers, a typical sign of spring. 

On the other hand, some industries are showing no signs of recovery. For example, the share of taxi rides of all payment card transactions has declined, with no improvement thus far. Due to the ongoing travel restrictions, international purchases have nearly halted, with the exception of online shopping.