Worldwide card spend ‘reached $42trn’ in 2021

Worldwide expenditure on payment cards rose by 23 per cent to over $42 trillion in 2021, according to new research by Retail Banking Research (RBR).

RBR said the rise 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.

The organisation’s Global Payment Cards Data and Forecasts to 2027 report showed that growth in total purchase volume was seen across debit, credit, and prepaid cards, and in all regions except China.

In China, which accounted for 50 per cent of total card spending across the globe, card payments growth remained high at 22 per cent.

The study showed that debit cards saw the largest increase in spending, rising by 25 per cent to $28 trillion. The uptick was attributed to changes in consumer behaviour that developed over the course of the pandemic and encouraged increased use of debit cards for low-value transactions.

RBR’s report also showed 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 nine per cent fall in 2020 to increase by 30 per cent in 2021.

Daniel Dawson, senior associate at RBR, who led the study, commented: “The global payment card market has recovered strongly, despite the lingering effects of Covid-19.”

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