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Global non-cash transaction volumes record highest growth of past decade

Global non-cash transaction volumes grew 11.2% during 2014–2015 to reach 433.1 billion, the highest growth of the past decade, and slightly above last year’s World Payments Report prediction (Figure 1.1). Two regions fuelled this increase: Emerging Asia with a growth rate of 43.4% and CEMEA (Central Europe, Middle East, and Africa3), with 16.4% growth.

Expansion in Emerging Asia was due to impressive growth across all geographies as increased adoption of mobile payments and wallets generated a proliferation of card use. Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment (EBPP) solutions that leverage real-time payments networks and infrastructures boosted credit transfers. CEMEA recorded the highest growth in cards transactions and credit transfers in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Poland. This was particularly true in countries where card network development is immature.

Share of Non-Cash Transaction Volumes (%), by Region, 2004, 2012–2015

For example, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency’s SADAD Payment System is a national EBPP service provider, facilitating a wide range of payment transactions for individuals, banks, businesses, and the government sector. Initially, a bill payment system, SADAD was expanded in 2016 with the launch of e-account services that facilitate links between banks and retailers, a critical step toward increasing digital payments in the Kingdom.

Overall, developing markets (e.g. Emerging Asia, Latin America and CEMEA) recorded accelerated volume growth of 21.6%, driven by individual countries such as China (63.2%), Russia (30%), India (16%), Mexico (10.9%), and South Africa (10.7%).

Non-cash transaction volumes in mature markets witnessed a growth rate of 6.8%, a nominal rise over the 6% recorded in 2014. Within this segment, total non-Eurozone and North America regions saw the highest growth rates of 10.2% and 5.4%, respectively, during 2015.

Number of Worldwide Non-Cash Transactions (Billion), by Region, 2011-15

The greatest growth rate increase (although not the highest growth rate) was recorded in North America (United States and Canada) with 5.4% in 2015, compared with 4.4% in 2014. In the United States, increased adoption of mobile payments led to a growth rate of 5.6%.

In comparison, Canada’s non-cash transaction volume growth slowed during the period from 6.6% in 2014 to 4.1% in 2015 due to several factors, including a reduction in growth rates of debit card and direct debit transactions as contactless technology proliferated. Use of contactless credit cards in Canada tripled between 2011–20154. Also, enhanced loyalty and reward programs boosted credit card transaction volumes, which overtook debit card volume growth.

Contactless payments are becoming the new normal, and the trend is being observed in Europe as well in countries such as France where the circulation of Visa contactless cards doubled from 20.3 million in 2014 to 40 million in 2015. The UK tops the contactless markets in Europe with contactless cards in circulation reaching as high as 106.9 million in 20156. Even in Australia, contactless payments account for about 70- to 80% of MasterCard and Visa payments.

Europe recorded a small non-cash transaction volume growth rate, from 7.3% to 7.5%. Countries in this region that experienced accelerated growth include Germany, Spain, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, and Denmark. It is interesting to note that some countries with higher per capita transactions (Figure 1.4), such as Denmark and Finland witnessed accelerated growth.

Mature Asia Pacific APAC countries experienced stable growth of 9.6% in 2015 (compared with 10.8% in 2014). Changes occurred in the mix of payments instruments, with increased adoption of credit transfers fuelled by wallets and instant payments, which was particularly the case in Singapore and Japan. Furthermore, in Japan, the non-cash volume base is stabilising as GDP stagnates. In Australia and South Korea, growth rates were flat.

The growth rate did not offset the decrease in card transaction volumes although credit transfers in the region increased, fuelled by higher adoption of Singapore’s immediate payments system, Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST), and by Australian digital payment methods.

Growth rates in mature markets are stabilising due to higher penetration of alternative instruments such as contactless and mobile payments. At the same time, higher GDP growth, and adoption of digital initiatives such as mobiles and wallets are leading to volume growth in developing countries.

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