The number of bank cards in use in the UAE during the last quarter of 2009 fell by over 50 per cent when compared to the same period of 2008, according to the latest figures from the Central Bank of the UAE.

The latest data shows that the number of cards fell from a peak of 8.8 million at the end of the fourth quarter of 2008, to 4.1 million at the end of fourth quarter of 2009.

The figures show that the total number of automated teller machine (ATM) transactions fell to AED43.7bn ($11.9bn), from AED47.5bn in the same period of 2008. The total volume of transactions peaked at AED58.8bn in the first quarter of 2009.

Point of sale transactions, which monitors the numbers of transactions undertaken by retailers with ATM cards, fell to 3 million in the last quarter of 2009, down from 3.4 million in the same period of 2008.

The figures indicate that a significant slowdown in retail banking activity has occurred during 2009.