Global card purchase volume for goods and services, which excludes cash advances on credit cards and cash withdrawals on debit cards, grew by 5.8 per cent to $20.606 trillion in 2016, according to The Nilson Report, the leading card and mobile payment trade publication.

UnionPay debit cards were the most popular 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, 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 per cent — 30.21 billion more than in 2015. These transactions included all commercial and consumer credit, debit, and prepaid cards.

Visa cards generated 54.06 per cent 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 per cent, followed by Visa credit cards with 19.23 per cent. Mastercard debit cards had a 13.3 per cent share, overtaking Mastercard credit cards with a 12.87 per cent share. UnionPay credit cards had a 7.59 per cent share, and UnionPay debit cards had a 7.32 per cent share. American Express had a 2.81 per cent share, followed by JCB cards with 1.15 per cent and Diners Club/Discover cards with 0.91 per cent.

“When consumers worldwide reach into their wallets for a payment card, more than half of the time, they use a Visa card,” said David Robertson, Publisher of The Nilson Report.

UnionPay had the largest percentage increase in purchase transactions. Combined, UnionPay credit and debit card purchase transactions at merchants grew 32.0 per cent in 2016.

Debit and prepaid cards accounted for 55.44 per cent of purchase transactions, up from 54.64 per cent in 2015. Visa purchase transactions were 64.42 per cent debit, up from 63.91 per cent. Mastercard purchase transactions were 50.82 per cent debit, up from 49.99 per cent. UnionPay purchase transactions were 49.08 per cent debit, up from 46.90 per cent.

Credit, debit, and prepaid cards in circulation worldwide totaled 11.15 billion at the end of 2016, up 9.4 per cent over 2015. Of the total cards in circulation, 77.37 per cent were debit, up from 75.89 per cent. Debit cards in circulation grew by 894.8 million compared to a 67.1 million increase for credit cards. UnionPay added the most cards (683.0 million), an increase of 12.6 per cent, while JCB had the second highest percentage increase in cards (up 10.1 per cent), adding 9.4 million cards. Visa added 141.4 million cards (up 4.8 per cent), Mastercard added 136.9 million cards (up 8.9 per cent), American Express had a reduction of 7.9 million cards (down 6.7 per cent), and Diners Club/Discover declined by 1.0 million cards (down 1.7 per cent).

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