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The number of prepaid, debit and credit cards worldwide will reach 22 billion by 2020

a-wallet-with-debit-and-credit-cardChances are that you have more cards in your wallet than you do cash notes. Debit and credit cards, membership cards, store cards, medical aid cards and our driver’s licences are what’s really responsible for the bulge in our wallets these days. They might not all be payment cards, but they could be and sooner than you think. According to The Nilson Report, prepaid, debit and credit cards will outnumber the people on earth threefold by 2020.

Payment cards will reach the 22 billion mark within the next three years, that’s a 21% increase from 2015 and a 67% increase from 2010. In an age when consumers are getting ready to pay for everything with their watches, sunglasses and rings, it’s interesting to see that payment cards are still thriving.

What other predictions can be made about the new decade?

While cash is still the dominant payment method everywhere else in the world and is expected to maintain its hold on the market well into the next decade, debit cards are predicted to surpass cash as the main form of payment in Holland by 2020.

“Numerous economies are exhibiting a notable shift away from cash or cheque-based transactions in favour of cards as well as web-based solutions, and increasingly smartphone or tablet-based mobile solutions,” forecasts BNY Mellon in Global Payments 2020: Transformation and Convergence.

Retail Banking Research (RBR), in their presentation entitled Global Payment Cards Data and Forecasts to 2021, predict that debit cards will account for 72% of card payments while the number of credit cards will make up 19% (a 3% drop from 2015). They also predict that the total number of card payments worldwide will increase by 55%, reaching 417 billion by 2021.

Commenting on the promising numbers, RBR’s Chris Herbert was quoted as saying “technology developments such as contactless, and a willingness to use cards for ever smaller payment amounts are boosting the cards sector.”

Innovation remains at the forefront of card payment solutions

Debit and credit cards are able to stay relevant in the face of several other payment methods because they keep pace with evolving consumer needs and the growing demands of the payments industry. Key advancements and innovations in areas like anti-money laundering, fraud detection, and biometrics will secure the future of debit and credit cards in consumers’ lives.

The first thing we’ll probably notice is the standardisation of contactless payments. In 2016, contactless payments took a big step from experimental to practical by penetrating the consumer market. By the end of November last year, Pick n Pay became the first South African grocery chain to introduce contactless payments. Paycorp’s own EFTPOS Verifone terminals will soon be able to support contactless transactions. Going forward, we can reasonably expect more retail businesses to follow suit and for contactless payments to become a regular practice among consumers.

Biometrics will also become mainstream as the technology matures and the infrastructure becomes more secure. The Payments Association of South Africa (PASA) has partnered with the Department of Home Affairs as well as Visa and MasterCard to establish a standard for biometric authentication. This could lead to the introduction of a range of new payment solutions to the South African market, like biometric POS systems and ATMs.

There may be three times the number of cards as there are people on earth over the next three years, but evidently it will all work to our benefit. In order to reap those benefits, however, you’ll need to have the necessary systems in place. Download our EFTPOS brochure below for more information about our highly capable point-of-sale solutions.