Worldwide Card Payments Overtake Cash Transactions for First Time

September 29, 2016, Written By Bill Hardekopf
Close-up of payment machine while human hand keeping plastic car

For the first time ever, global consumer card payments have surpassed cash payments. According to new research from Euromonitor International, card transactions have reached $23.1 trillion globally compared to the $22.6 trillion in cash purchases.

Both consumer card transactions and mobile payments are growing at a much faster rate than cash payments. Consumer cards are expected to grow 6.6% from 2016 through 2021, and mobile commerce will increase by 23%. Cash payments are projected to increase only 1.3%.

“This stagnant growth of cash payments signals a shift from an increase of cash supply to a decrease and is a major victory for card and electronic payments,” said Kendrick Sands, senior consumer finance analyst at Euromonitor International. “And the shift of consumer shopping channels toward online is directly benefitting mobile-commerce, which saw a 53 percent rise from 2015 to 2016.”

Debit cards are seeing an exceptional level of growth, increasing 8.1% from 2015 to 2016, compared to a 5.3% increase among credit cards. In China, debit cards accounted for 65% of all card payments, and there are more than 5.4 billion in circulation in that country.

“With more consumers gaining access to financial products and services, total debit cards in circulation are expected to register a 7.4 percent global CAGR (compound annual growth rate) growth from 2016-2021,” Sands said. “Overall, continued strong momentum is expected in the conversion of consumer payments away from paper to card and electronic alternatives.”

The information contained within this article was accurate as of September 29, 2016. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.