One billion payment cards issued in 2016
Written by Chris Lemmon
The global payment cards market has grown by eight per cent to reach 14 billion cards currently in use worldwide, with UnionPay consolidating its position as the largest scheme, according to new research from RBR.
With a billion new cards issued in the space of a year, the global market remains buoyant. The fastest growth is in Asia-Pacific, driven by financial inclusion initiatives, with China contributing by far the most to the rise in card numbers. By 2022, the number of cards worldwide is forecast to rise to 17 billion as many people, particularly in parts of Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and Africa, still do not hold a payment card.
The continued rapid expansion of the Chinese cards market has helped UnionPay to increase its share of cards to 43 per cent in 2016, and extend its lead over Visa and Mastercard. UnionPay has been the largest scheme globally for card numbers since 2010 and, by the end of 2016, there were more than six billion UnionPay-branded cards in circulation.
RBR found that UnionPay, Visa and Mastercard collectively account for 80 per cent of cards worldwide. The remainder are T&E schemes (American Express, Diners Club and JCB), Discover and domestic-only bank and private label cards. There are significant country-level differences, however; for example, JCB holds a strong position in its home market of Japan.
RBR’s Daniel Dawson commented: “UnionPay may struggle to maintain its high global share once the international schemes obtain domestic licences to operate in China. It will increasingly look to expand its business abroad to counteract competition in its home market.”