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Card volume expands in India despite significant unbanked population

Flag_of_IndiaThough more than 40 percent of India’s urban population remains unbanked, recent data from the Reserve Bank of India showed an increase in the volume of payment card transactions and the number of cards in circulation.

Payment card transaction volume totaled 236 million in the third quarter, a 38.7 year-over-year increase. The number of outstanding cards increased 20.1 percent year-over-year to 350 million—credit cards accounted for just 5.4 percent but 45.4 percent of volume.

The number of credit cards increased 6.8 percent year-over-year to 18.9 million, and transaction volume increased 27 percent year-over-year to 105.6 million.

Additionally, the number of debit cards rose 19.2 percent to 314 million, though the data correlates with bank account openings rather than demand for debit cards. Debit card volume increase by nearly 50 percent year-over-year.

Though much of India—as much as 61 percent of consumers in rural areas—remains unbanked, a significant portion of the unbanked population has access to a mobile phone, making the country a market with substantial potential for mobile payment growth.

“As India continues to expand and upgrade its telecommunications infrastructure to rural areas, more Indian consumers will have access to secure and reliable electronic payments and financial services via a mobile phone– a critical step in the migration from cash to more convenient, secure forms of payment,” Visa said.

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