Last year, the number of card transactions grew nearly twice as fast as the number of new cards, at 15 and 9 percent, respectively, according to the new study, “Global Payment Cards Data and Forecasts to 2021,” by RBR.

The numbers — which include a total of 270 card transactions during 2015 —indicate that consumers are increasingly turning to cards to make purchases.

For example, a central bank drive to reduce cash use in Thailand was supported by marketing by banks promoting debit cards — rather than cash withdrawn from ATMs. Merchants also received incentives to increase card acceptance.

In the Czech Republic and Poland, the rapid spread of contactless cards and acceptance infrastructure has brought about a surge in card payments, the RBR study found. Contactless has stimulated additional card payments in more developed markets, such as the U.K. and France, the company said.

According to the RBR study, the number of card payments worldwide will rise by a projected 55 percent between 2015 and 2021, to 417 billion. This compares to growth of 28 percent in card numbers over the same period.

Growth in card payment volume will be strongest in the Middle East and Africa, central and eastern Europe and Asia-Pacific, RBR said.

“We are seeing strong growth in card usage in all regions,” said Chris Herbert of RBR. “Cardholders in developing markets are gradually becoming more accustomed to using cards rather than cash for payment, and this — combined with a rapidly expanding acceptance network — is creating the perfect environment for a card payments boom. In more mature markets, technology developments such as contactless, and a willingness to use cards for ever smaller payment amounts are boosting the cards sector.”


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