Use of foreign payment cards in Iceland amounted to ISK 188 billion (USD 1.8 billion/EUR 1.5 billion) in the first eight months of 2017, or ISK 23.5 billion (USD 224 million/EUR 191 million) per month, mbl.is reports. That represents an increase of over 63 percent since 2015 and corresponds to around ISK 542,000 (USD 5,200/EUR 4,400) per resident of Iceland. All indications point to continued growth in the sector.
Andrés Magnússon, Secretary General of the Federation of Trade and Services, says retail in central Reykjavík is dependent on foreign tourists. The use of foreign cards in Iceland has become equivalent to the use of local debit cards.
Yet Andrés believes Icelandic retailers have reason to be optimistic. If direct flights from Asia which are planned for 2019 are instated, it will open an untapped market. “If Icelandic airlines begin direct flights to Asia in 2019 we will see more growth in this sector than hitherto. Many Asians have strong purchasing power,” he stated.