PAYMENTS IN BULGARIA
Bulgaria is a parliamentary democracy and member of the European Union since 2007, but has not yet joined the euro zone.
Bulgaria, ranked as a developing country, is one of the least-developed payments markets in Europe, with negative population growth, very low banking penetration, and the relative lack of internet usage compared to neighbouring countries impeding the consumer uptake of digital banking and payments. However, this low level of penetration leaves ample room for growth, particularly for FinTech players which can roll out innovative mobile-based services. Usage of Apple Pay and other payment apps are gaining traction as more banks enhance their card and mobile offerings.
The adoption of the revised Payment Services Directive, PSD2, and disruptive technologies have set the stage for digital payments for the digital economy in Bulgaria. They have accelerated digital payment transformation and mobile payment services, as well as cardless IBAN-based payments directly from bank accounts.
In the last decade, Bulgarian consumers have embraced mobile devices such as tablets, smartphones and Internet of Things (IoT). This change significantly impacts their shopping experience. Consumers have become increasingly connected and they have started to purchase anywhere, at any time, from any device.
In addition, new consumer demands are a game changer. Bulgarian consumers like digital banking apps with access to all their accounts at different banks in one single app, with the option to make payments directly from their bank account of choice. Additionally, they appreciate more banking services and payment services added to their mobile banking app. Consumer adoption of digital payments in Bulgaria is driven by minimal cost, secure payments and a high level of user convenience.
Driven by the development of social media and mobile devices, the emergence of permanently connected consumers has impacted their interactions with brands but also their expectations of how to shop using the increasing number of touch points between consumers and merchants, e.g.:
- Using mobile devices in-store to look up products or additional information on the internet
- Using mobile devices in-store to shop at the same merchant or online at another merchant
- Using mobile devices to purchase at home in online shops or scan outdoor for advertised products
- Using mobile apps to shop online, or using QR-codes to bridge from merchant posters to their online shops
The ongoing rollout of a mature online and mobile communication infrastructure is an enabler for digital card payment transformation and for Open Banking payments in Bulgaria.
In a few years from now, mobile banking apps and mobile payment apps are expected to combine account management, digital payment services, personal finance management and value-added digital services from location finders to digital vouchers.
Cash payments, card payments and cardless payments directly from bank accounts (A2A payments) remain all relevant for Bulgarian merchants and are heavily used by Bulgarian consumers.
This country profile provides an introduction into two competing payment ecosystems in Bulgaria:
- Card payment ecosystem
- Cardless Open Banking payment ecosystem
STATISTICAL KEY FIGURES FOR 2022/23 PROVIDED IN THIS PROFILE:
New in 2023:
- The full impact of COVID-19 on digital payments, card payments, e-commerce and m-commerce by market.
- Real-time payments infrastructure and growth statistics by market.
- Open Banking infrastructure, API roll-out, key players and key initiatives by market.
- Contactless and mobile payments statistics by market.
- Cryptocurrency, stablecoin and CBDC initiatives by market.
- Full update on bank channel digitisation by market.
- Forecasting column added for all the major tables.
- Reader-friendly design with enhanced data visualisation.
- Industry developments and bank deployments of eID, biometrics and AI.
- The integration of digital challengers and neobanks into the banking infrastructure.
Updates For 2022-23:
- Updated – Bank M&As, restructuring and market positioning. Customer number KPIs and adoption of digital channel KPIs.
- Updated – Mobile banking apps and digital wallet initiatives.
- Updated - PSPs by individual country.
- Updated – Real-time payments uptake and QR code payments rollout.
- Updated – Card fraud in Europe and by individual country.
- Updated – Non-bank cards and co-brands.
- Highlighting the new trends in the payment industry by individual country:
Contactless, mobile NFC, QR code, mPOS, SoftPOS services
Display cards, contactless ATMs, biometric authentication
Digital wallets, in-app payments, mobile in-store payments
Cryptocurrency and CBCD initiatives
- Updated: tables with card business data 2017-2021; growth rates: Y-o-Y, CAGR + Forecasting column
- Population, Cards per Capita, Card Value per Capita
- Debit Cards, Credit/Delayed Debit Cards, Total Cards
- Card payments by number and by value, ATV per card, payments per card/year
- ATMs, POS terminals, ATMs/POS terminals per 1 million capita
- ATM withdrawals by number/by value, ATV per withdrawal, TXs per ATM/month
- POS payments by number/by value, ATV per POS payment, TXs per POS/month
- Internet Use, e-payment mix, B2C e-Commerce by value and growth rate
- Issued Card brands by individual major issuer bank
- Accepted card brands by individual major acquirer
- Drill down into the debit card use and credit cards use details
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Version 1.1 - last updated 03/01/23