So Who Was the Most Popular Payment Card Processor Last Year?

American Express, Diners Club/Discover, JCB, MasterCard, UnionPay, and Visa branded cards generated 195.56 billion transactions at merchants in 2014, an increase of 24.28 billion or 14.2% over 2013, according to the annual report Global Cards 2014 by Nilson. Purchase volume for goods and services grew by $2.832 trillion or 18.3% in 2014.

UnionPay debit cards were the most popular payment method by card type based on purchase volume, followed by Visa debit cards and Visa credit cards. UnionPay credit cards overtook MasterCard credit cards, and MasterCard debit cards overtook American Express credit cards.

Visa and MasterCard purchases accounted for $55 of every $100 in purchase volume last year, compared to $59 in 2013. Visa cards generated $37 of every $100, down from $40. UnionPay cards accounted for $38 of every $100, up from $33 in 2013.

UnionPay continued to have the highest percentage increase in purchase transactions. Last year its credit and debit purchase transactions at merchants grew by 52.3%. However, its year-over-year growth of 6.78 billion transactions compared to an increase of 10.40 billion for Visa and 6.17 billion for MasterCard. The number of purchase transactions on UnionPay debit cards exceeded the number on American Express credit cards for the first time.

Visa debit cards continued to account for the most purchase transactions with a share of 36.79%, followed by Visa credit cards with 20.95%, MasterCard credit cards with 13.76%, MasterCard debit cards with 12.58%, UnionPay credit cards with 5.45%, UnionPay debit cards with 4.65%, American Express cards with 3.40%, Diners Club/Discover cards with 1.24%, and JCB cards with 1.18%.

Commercial cards are catching on in both the U.S. and abroad. The basic impetus behind migrating to commercial cards remains cost savings. The industry is approaching that impetus with increasingly sophisticated solutions. Names like IntelliLink (Visa), SmartData (MasterCard), PAYVE (American Express) and Paymode-X (Bank of America) are adding some very enticing value propositions to their corporate clients. They are allowing corporate clients to leverage information, create process synergies, and control costs better than ever before.