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Global Card Spending Reaches $42 Trillion As COVID-19 Restrictions Are Eased


Global Card Spending Reaches $42 Trillion As COVID-19 Restrictions Are Eased

Debit cards drive growth as contactless usage continues to rise and consumer spending recovers after the height of the pandemic. Card usage will keep growing as new spending habits developed during the pandemic will persist

Spending with payment cards rebounds quickly

LONDON- New research by RBR shows that worldwide expenditure on payment cards reached over $42 trillion in 2021, representing a rise of 23%. This rapid increase came as economies around the world recovered from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had led to a marginal fall in payment card spending in 2020. RBR’s new report, Global Payment Cards Data and Forecasts to 2027, shows that growth in total purchase volume was seen across debit, credit, and prepaid cards, and in all regions. Excluding China – which accounted for 50% of total card spending across the globe – growth remained high at 22%.

Credit card spending increases as international travel resumes

The study shows that debit cards saw the largest increase in spending, rising by 25% to stand at $28 trillion. The increasing number of contactless debit cards, as well as changes in consumer behaviour that developed over the course of the pandemic, encouraged an uptick in the usage of such cards for low-value transactions. There was strong growth in credit card expenditure, which rose by 20% reflecting the recovery of travel and entertainment after the easing of pandemic restrictions in many countries.

Purchase volume worldwide, 2019-2021 ($ trillion)

Source: Global Payment Cards Data and Forecasts to 2027 (RBR)

Robust growth worldwide with card expenditure up by over 20% in all regions

RBR’s report reveals that the most rapid growth in percentage terms was seen in the Middle East and Africa region, where card spending rose by almost a third. This was driven by credit card expenditure, which recovered from a 9% fall in 2020 to increase by 30%. Asia-Pacific saw the greatest absolute growth, primarily the result of an increase in debit card spending as contactless debit transactions continue to cannibalise cash usage in the region.

Daniel Dawson, who led RBR’s Global Payment Cards Data and Forecasts to 2027 study, commented: “The global payment card market has recovered strongly, despite the lingering effects of COVID‑19. Card usage will keep growing, as new habits that developed during the pandemic such as higher usage of contactless and e‑commerce stay in place”.

Notes to editors

These figures and insights are based on RBR’s study, Global Payment Cards Data and Forecasts to 2027. For more information about this report or to discuss the findings in more detail please email Daniel Dawson ([email protected]) or call +44 20 8831 7310.

About RBR Data Services 

RBR Data Services provides clients with independent and reliable data and insights through published research, consulting and bespoke data services. Our global research covers the cards and payments, retail technology and banking automation sectors and is used by the leading market participants, analysts and regulators as the authoritative source of industry and competitor benchmark data. For any questions about this release, please contact [email protected].

About Datos Insights

Datos Insights delivers the most comprehensive and industry-specific data and advice to the companies trusted to protect and grow the world’s assets, and to the technology and service providers who support them. Staffed by experienced industry executives, researchers, and consultants, we support the world’s most progressive banks, insurers, investment firms, and technology companies through a mix of insights and advisory subscriptions, data services, custom projects and consulting, conferences, and executive councils. For more information, please contact [email protected].

The information and data within this press release are the copyright of Datos Insights and may only be quoted with appropriate attribution to RBR Data Services, a division of Datos Insights. The information is provided free of charge and may not be resold.