Power Consumption of a card swipe

Published on Jun 11, 2022

In extension to the blogs written on Which consumes more power: Banks or Bitcoins, this week, we will be looking at how much power a credit/debit card transaction consumes.

The point where you swipe a card to make a payment is called PoS(Point of Sale). This transaction uses servers to transfer money and details from one bank to another. So, let’s get the ball rolling.

As per RBI,

the number of PoS terminals in India as of Apr’22 is 6.13 mn.

Number of credit card transactions at PoS = 115mn per month (Apr’22) ~ 115*12 = 1380mn per year

Number of debit card transactions at PoS = 213mn per month (Apr’22) ~ 213*12 = 2556mn per year

Total estimated card transaction per year =(1380+2556)=3936mn per yr

Energy used by PoS for each transaction = 0.23 Wh (as per DnB working paper)

Assuming about 2 servers per branch, only 10% of its power is used for transactions (the rest is for storing data and running websites among other things). As there are nearly 30,000 branches in India, total servers = 60k servers.
Each bank server consumes about 103 units (kWh) per year for transaction purposes. This implies

power consumption of bank servers = 103*60k ~ 6.18GWh

So, energy used by the server for each transaction = 6.18*10⁹Wh/3936 mn = 1.57 Wh

So, the total power consumption per card transaction is nearly (1.57+0.23) = 1.8Wh

This is equivalent to your room’s LED bulb of 8W glowing for 15 minutes.

And the total power consumption of such card transactions in India per year = 3936mn * 1.8 Wh = 7085 MWh

This is equivalent to powering nearly 3400 homes in India throughout the year!!

These are the numbers as of this year. As we are going more digital by the day, these numbers are bound to increase and so does the carbon footprints. Considering the prevailing climate change scenarios, do you think it is high time we build and use such architecture more consciously?

Written by Zodhya

About Zodhya

We are Zodhya, a start-up that provides AI-based tech to reduce energy bills and lower emissions for commercial buildings and industries.