Tuesday, September 17, 2013

There's something for everyone in latest global payment cards data

The publication of RBR's global payment cards research provides, among other things, an annual opportunity to analyze how the different card schemes are matching up.
Last year's research highlighted the meteoric rise of UnionPay, and in many ways this remains the outstanding feature again this year, with the Chinese scheme growing its share of cards in issue to 34.5 percent — well ahead of its main competitors.

To some extent all the main schemes will be pleased with the new figures, however. Visa's V Pay, while still something of a niche European scheme, grew its card base by more than 50 percent, for example. And with an overall increase of more than 8 percent, MasterCard brands saw slightly higher growth in card numbers than their Visa counterparts.

The other main schemes — American Express, Diners Club, Discover and JCB — also grew their cards in issue, but it was the 12 percent growth in domestic scheme card numbers that caught the eye here. This only just kept pace with the global growth driven by UnionPay but was nevertheless ahead of most other schemes.

Growth of domestic schemes in less developed markets is likely to be a feature of the global cards scene for the next few years, with Brazil's ELO, India's RuPay and expanding schemes in other large markets such as Mexico and Nigeria.

There is no right way of comparing schemes — while UnionPay now dominates in terms of the number of cards, it must be remembered that most of these are in one country and that UnionPay's share of the number and value of transactions still lags behind the other main schemes.

Interestingly, while UnionPay makes up a more modest 4.4 percent of transactions, this rises to 20.5 percent of the value of global card payments. The message here is that it is only a matter of time before there is an explosion in the number of global card transactions when Chinese people start using cards for more everyday purchases.

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