New stats have Visa almost cornering the debit market, with a 72.7 percent marketshare

New statistics on payment card purchases came out Monday (April 1) and they show a continuing overwhelming share of the debit market (72.7 percent) controlled by Visa debit, while Visa's control of the credit space is strong but not nearly as lopsided, at 49.6 percent. (This gives Visa reverse-bragging rights to say that it does not control most of the credit card transactions globally. By a hair, perhaps, but it's true.) It's certainly understandable why retailers are cheering for mobile payments to dislodge the payment giants, but these figures suggest that Visa has few immediate-term worries.

The new numbers released by the Nilson Report — which has tracked such stats for the last 42 years — ranked the top payment players globally. Looking at both debit and credit transactions, Visa was on top, having processed some 92.7 billion transactions, followed by MasterCard with 40.1 billion, China's UnionPay with 9 billion, AmericanExpress at 5.8 billion and Japan's JCB at 1.6 billion transactions. That totals (when you ignore the rounding corrections) 149.36 billion transactions in 2012, which reflects a 9.7 percent (13.19 billion) increase from 2011, Nilson reported.

In dollars for global credit card transactions, the ranking is the same but the numbers are closer, with Visa at about $3.2 trillion in transaction value, MasterCard at about $2.1 trillion, UnionPay at $1 trillion, Amex at $888 billion, JCB at about $186 billion and Diners Club at about $29 billion. When you isolate the global transactions to debit-and-prepaid-only, Visa racked up about $5.6 trillion in transactions, UnionPay about $2.8 trillion and MasterCard about $1.5 trillion. (Note: UnionPay apparently doesn't do prepaid, so its figure is all debit.)

Interestingly, if you slice the numbers a different way and look at the numbers of cards in circulation, UnionPay comes out on top with some healthy wiggle room, controlling some 48 percent of all such cards in the world last year, with Visa's logo on about 34 percent, MasterCard's on about 16 percent, Amex 1.4 percent, JCB 1.1 percent and DinersClub at about 0.1 percent.

The most overwhelming number for Visa came in that 72.7 percent share of debit transactions globally, compared with 22 percent for MasterCard and 5.3 percent for UnionPay. The credit card counter to those figures gave Visa that 49.6 percent share, topping MasterCard's 32.5 percent, Amex's 8.5 percent, UnionPay's 6.9 percent, JCB's 2.3 percent and DinersClub's 0.2 percent.

For more:

- Nilson Report site

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