Payments via debit and credit cards in Turkey surged 10% year-on-year in the first half of this year amid concerns surrounding the novel coronavirus, according to the country’s Interbank Card Center (BKM) on Monday.

“While payment behavior continues to change with the pandemic period, a total of 500 billion Turkish liras [$77 billion] payment was done via cards in January-June,” the BKM said in a statement.

The number of card payments rose the most in the consumer electronics and markets-food sectors with 43% and 33%, respectively, compared to the same period last year.

This was followed by public payments, such as taxes and fines with 20%, construction equipment with 16% and insurance with 14%.

As digital transformation continues unabated, online card payments, which have become indispensable during the pandemic period, rose rapidly.

The total value of online credit card payments in Turkey increased 24% annually to 107 billion Turkish liras (around $16.5 billion) in the first six months of this year.

Online payments accounted for 21% of total card payments in the January-June period, up from 18% last year.

Also triggered by virus fears, the number of contactless credit, debit and pre-paid card transactions tripled and reached 563 million during the same period.

The number of credit cards hit 71.9 million, while 172.9 million debit cards were in use in Turkey as of the end of June, it noted.

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