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UnionPay overtakes Visa as world’s largest card

China’s UnionPay has surpassed Visa as the largest payment card scheme in the world with its brand appearing on three in every 10 cards across the globe, according to a new report.

The results of a Retailers Banking Research study show that most UnionPay cards are used in China and that Visa branded cards are still well ahead in terms of usage and spending, FinChannel.com reports.

The study also showed that there are now more than eight billion payment cards worldwide, there was a fall in the number of cards in North America and that the prepaid and debit card worlds grew more than 10 percent.

The research indicated that 20 percent of cards worldwide belong to domestic bank card or private label schemes, however, that share is falling, which will lead greater competition for the cards and greater efforts to convince large issuers to change their scheme allegiances, FinChannel.com reports.

A large drop in credit cards in the United States dragged the share of credit cards down by four points to 28 percent in 2010. Credit cards are expected to grow over the next few years as the financial crisis gradually heals.

Despite the growth in credit cards over the next few years, their share of payment cards is predicted to fall by a percentage point by 2015 as the prepaid and debit card sectors continue to flourish.

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