The number of payment cards globally increased by 8 percent in 2016 to 14 billion with one billion new cards issued in 2016, according to a survey conducted by London-based research firm, RBR.
The survey titled, Global Payment Cards and Forecasts to 2022, indicated that UnionPay, Visa and Mastercard accounted for 80 percent of issued cards while the remaining 20 percent are travel and entertainment card schemes (American Express, Diners Club and JCB), Discover and domestic-only bank and private label cards.
According to the survey, the global market remains buoyant and Asia-Pacific remained the fastest in terms of growth as a result of their financial initiatives, with China contributing by far the most to the rise in card numbers. The study revealed that the number of cards globally is projected to increase to 17 billion by 2022, 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 market share to 43% 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, more than six billion UnionPay branded cards would be in circulation.
However, UnionPay remains a predominantly domestic scheme. Less than 1% of its cards are issued outside China, mainly in other parts of Asia-Pacific countries but also in Europe. Its expansion drive to new markets and adoption of its chip standards in six Asia-Pacific countries point to UnionPay’s plans to step up international growth.
“UnionPay stand to face greater competition in China, as Visa and Mastercard await clarification from the Chinese regulator before submitting their applications to operate domestically in the country,” the survey noted.
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