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January 23, 2014

ArCa: Presence of leading payment systems in Armenia - serious achievement of local banks Yerevan , January 23 . ArmInfo. Elita Babayan . Presence of leading international payment systems in Armenia is a serious achievement of local banks, says Ishkhan Mkhitaryan , Head of Armenian Card National Payment System, in an interview with ArmInfo. Commenting on the current state of the plastic card market in Armenia , Mkhitaryan said that the interest of the leading payment systems in the plastic card market of Armenia is growing. Mkhitaryan recalled that four international payment systems operate in Armenia : MasterCard , Visa Int ., American Express and Dines Club International . Armenian Card is processing transactions of all the four systems. In addition, 15 ArCa member-banks are members of MasterCard and 10 banks are members of Visa Int . Since 2010 Armenian Card has been the processing center of AmEx international payment system. The local ACBA-Credit Agricole Bank is an exclusive partner of AmEx in Armenia . Another local bank - ARARATBANK - has been the acquiring bank (since 2012) and emitter bank (2013) of Diners Club international cards in Armenia . "Banks actively work to expand their customer base by various campaigns for cardholders, launch their own unique card projects, introduce bonus programs, and expand the network of POS-terminals, stimulating development of non-cash payments in Armenia ," Mkhitaryan said. Nevertheless, he said, one of the major problems of the local card market is that most of the operations with cards are cash-outs. "This is objective, given the size of average amounts of replenishment. Average cash- out transaction in the system totals some 40,000-45,000 drams. Some cardholders make one-two transactions per month," he says. According to ArCa, non-cash payments make up some 20% of total transactions, which, as he thinks, is not bad indicator for the Armenian market. "This indicator keeps growing with emerging modern trade chains. Online payments also have certain impact on development of non-cash payments. Hopefully, introduction of new software will foster growth of non-cash payments," he says. According to Mkhitaryan, development of the card market in Armenia has achieved a stage where technological development starts. According to ArmInfo's analytical review "Armenian Banks in the Card Business," as of 1 Dec 2013 , local banks served 6282 POS-terminals versus 5979 in 2012 and 4594 in 2011. Most of the operating POS- terminals serve plastic cards of ArCa and MasterCard systems. More than half of these POS-terminals serve Visa cards. Some 2000 serve American Express cards and 995 ATMs of ARARATBANK serve Diners Club cards. Cash-outs make up 80%-82% of total transactions. As of Dec 1 2013 the number of ATMs in Armenia totaled 1011 with a 6.4% year-over-year growth. Cash-out transactions via ATMs and POS- terminals in total made up 70% and 15%, respectively. Over 10% of non-cash transactions are carried out via POS-terminals, with over 5% being online transactions. According to Armenian Card, as of Dec 1 2013, the number of active cards in the system totaled 1397889. Most of the active cards are ArCa. Then go Visa and MasterCard . The number of active cards grew 42% versus Dec 2012 . The salary cards significantly grew over the year actually following the pension card project launched in March 2011 by 13 out of 20 operating banks in the country. Armenian Card CJSC was founded in March 2000 . At present, the shareholders of Armenian Card CJSC are the Central Bank and 17 commercial banks of Armenia , with nearly all the local banks engaged in acquiring and/or emission of payment cards being members of ArCa system. The National United Payment System Armenian Card launched new, state of the art software on February 8-9 2013 .

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Source: ArmInfo - Newswire (Armenia)

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