Global card payments are growing at twice the rate of the number of cards in circulation as acceptance booms and consumer habits shift away from cash.
The growing penetration of card acceptance and adoption of contactless is expected to help drive the number of card payments worldwide up by 55% to hit 417bn by 2021, according to new research from financial research and consultancy firm RBR.
Card numbers are expected to increase 28% in the same time frame.
Growth is expected to be strongest in the Middle East and Africa, central and eastern Europe and Asia-Pacific.
RBR says the total number of card payments globally climbed 15% last year to hit 270 billion, coming in at nearly double the 8% uptick in number of cards in circulation.
The report highlights the example of Thailand where the central bank has been driving efforts to reduce cash and banks have been pushing their marketing on debit cards.
RBR cites the deployment of contactless leading to a “surge” in card payments in regions like the Czech Republic and Poland, as well as stimulating growth in more mature markets like the UK and France.
“We are seeing strong growth in card usage in all regions,” says RBR associate Chris Herbert. “Cardholders in developing markets are gradually becoming more accustomed to using cards rather than cash for payment, and this combined with a rapidly expanding acceptance network is creating the perfect environment for a card payments boom.
“In more mature markets, technology developments such as contactless, and a willingness to use cards for ever smaller payment amounts are boosting the cards sector.”
In the likes of the UK, where supermarkets such as Waitress and Sainsbury’s are embracing contactless technology, it makes adoption much easier.
Samsung Pay is expanding into three new countries including Russia, and has partnered with Mastercard to introduce online payments.
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