Worldwide card purchase volume for goods and services grew 5.8 percent to over $20.6 trillion in 2016, according to the Nilson Report. This excluded cash advances on credit cards and cash withdrawals on debit cards.
Debit and prepaid cards accounted for 55.44 percent of purchase transactions, up from 54.64 percent in 2015. Visa purchase transactions were 64.42 percent debit, up from 63.91 percent. MasterCard purchase transactions were 50.82 percent debit, up from 49.99 percent. UnionPay purchase transactions were 49.08 percent debit, up from 46.90 percent.
Credit, debit, and prepaid cards in circulation worldwide totaled 11.15 billion at the end of 2016, up 9.4 percent from 2015. Of all cards in circulation, 77.37 percent were debit, up from 75.89 percent.
Debit cards in circulation grew by 894.8 million compared with a 67.1 million increase for credit cards. UnionPay added the largest number of cards at 683 million, an increase of 12.6 percent; JCB had the second largest increase in cards, at 9.4 million, an increase of 10.1 percent.
Visa, UnionPay, MasterCard, JCB, Diners Club/Discover, and American Express brand general purpose cards generated 257.17 billion purchase transactions at merchants in 2016, an increase of 13.3 percent, or 30.21 billion more than in 2015. These transactions included all commercial and consumer credit, debit, and prepaid cards.
China-based UnionPay debit cards were the most prevalent payment product based on purchase volume, followed by Visa credit cards, Visa debit cards, UnionPay credit cards, MasterCard credit cards, MasterCard debit cards, American Express cards, JCB cards, and Diners Club/Discover cards.
- Visa cards generated 54.06 percent of all purchase transactions on general purpose cards worldwide. Debit cards with the Visa brand continued to account for the most purchase transactions with a share of 34.82 percent, followed by Visa credit cards with 19.23 percent.
- MasterCard debit cards had a 13.30 percent share, overtaking MasterCard credit cards, which had a 12.87 percent share. UnionPay credit cards had a 7.59 percent share, and UnionPay debit cards had a 7.32 percent share. UnionPay had the largest percentage increase in purchase transactions. Combined, UnionPay credit and debit card purchase transactions at merchants grew 32 percent in 2016.
- American Express had a 2.81 percent share, followed by JCB cards with 1.15 percent, and Diners Club/Discover cards with 0.91 percent.
“When consumers worldwide reach into their wallets for a payment card, more than half of the time, they use a Visa card,” David Robertson, publisher of The Nilson Report said.
The Nilson report reveals some other interesting statistics.
Visa added 141.4 million cards (up 4.8 percent), MasterCard added 136.9 million cards (up 8.9 percent), American Express declined by 7.9 million cards (down 6.7 percent), and Diners Club/Discover declined by 1 million cards (down 1.7 percent).
For Visa, the percent change in credit card purchase volume was greater on cards issued inside the U.S. (up 15.3 percent) than those issued outside the U.S. (up 3.9 percent). The number of Visa credit card purchase transactions increased by 2.81 billion inside the U.S. compared to a 1.17 billion increase outside the U.S.
For Mastercard, the percent change in credit card purchase volume was greater on cards issued outside the U.S. (up 7.6 percent) than those issued inside the U.S. (up 6.2 percent). The number of Mastercard credit card purchase transactions increased by 2.64 billion outside the U.S. compared to a .6 billion increase inside the U.S.
For American Express, the percent change in credit card purchase volume was greater on cards issued outside the U.S. (up 10.8 percent) than on those issued inside the U.S. (down 3.0 percent). The number of American Express credit card purchase transactions increased by 0.27 billion outside the U.S. compared to a 0.20 billion decline in the U.S.