Debit cards are becoming more and more popular as payment tool, with a 19% increase in number of transactions, up to 1.33 billion, and expenses on food, clothing, and leisure continue to have a significant share in consumers’ outgoings, despite the recessionary times.

In contrast, in the year-ago half, 1.53 billion card transactions were conducted, 1.11 billion of which involving debit cards.

The highest increase in the number of card transactions was recorded in restaurants, with a total 20% growth, and 28% for debit cards. Card transactions in bars and night clubs went up by 16% and by 24% on debit cards. Card transactions in supermarkets and other food stores increased by 18% and by 21% debt card transactions, according to Visa Europe.

Ecommerce continued to grow strongly, with a 27% increase in transactions. Debit card e-commerce transactions climbed 34%.

The total value of Visa card transactions increased by 6% in second quarter 2009 from year-ago period.

The spending data tracks the European consumer spending on Visa debit and credit cards that is processed by Visa Europe between April 1 and June 30. Of these total transactions, approximately 75% were debit card transactions.

In Europe, there are over 360 million Visa debit, credit and commercial cards. In the 12 months ending June 2008 those cards were used to make purchases and cash withdrawals to the value of over 1.3 trillion euros. 11.4% of consumer spending at point of sale in Europe is with a Visa card.

Visa Europe is owned and operated by its 4,600 European member banks and was incorporated in July 2004. In October 2007, Visa Europe became independent of the new global Visa Inc., with an exclusive, irrevocable and perpetual licence in Europe. Visa enjoys the largest acceptance around the world. In addition, Visa/PLUS is one of the world’s largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in over 170 countries.