CM Magazine

2019 Card Industry Statistics and Trends Highlights

By Al Vrancart, ICMA Founder Emeritus and Industry Advisor

The global card industry manufactured 37.1 billion cards in 2019, which was 1% more than it manufactured in 2018. See the map below for ICMA’s definition of the regional markets in the global card industry.

The Asia Pacific market continues to lead the industry in growth and is currently the largest regional market, having manufactured more than 16.3 billion cards in 2019. North America followed with 9.54 billion cards manufactured and then Europe with 6 billion cards manufactured.

The global card industry manufactured $18.6 billion USD worth of cards in 2019, which was a 2.8% increase in revenue from the prior year. This can be attributed to growth in eight of the 12 global vertical markets. Asia Pacific generated the most revenue, approximately $8.6 billion USD, as the region continues to embrace mobile and card innovation and technology. Europe came in second with $4.37 billion USD and North America was third with $3.21 billion USD. Latin America and MEA rounded out the category.


Global Product Categories

Nearly 18.7 billion chip cards were manufactured across the globe in 2019. These included memory, contact, contactless and dual-interface cards, which represented 50% of the total card unit volume. There were 18.5 billion traditional cards manufactured, including magnetic stripe, bar-coded, QR-coded and basic plain cards, which represented 50% of the total unit volume. Globally, almost $16.6 billion USD worth of smart cards were manufactured, representing 89% of the global industry’s revenue. Traditional cards generated nearly $2.1 billion USD in 2019, representing 11% of the global industry’s revenue. A total of $18.65 billion USD worth of cards were manufactured in 2019.

Regional Markets–Personalization and Fulfillment

The global card industry personalized and fulfilled 30.8 billion cards in 2019, up 0.6% percent from 2018. Asia Pacific personalized and fulfilled the most, approximately 13.4 billion, cards driven by the SIM, financial and government/health card market segments. North America followed with almost 7.5 billion cards driven by the gift, government/health and financial card market segments. Europe ranked third in this category with 5.1 billion cards personalized and fulfilled in 2019 driven by the SIM, financial and government/health card market segments. MEA ranked fourth due to its large prepaid phone card unit volume. The region personalized and fulfilled 2.96 billion cards, with 2.1 billion of those cards being prepaid phone cards. However, prepaid phone card volume will decrease as the number of alternate payment methods grows. Latin America personalized and fulfilled 1.84 billion cards in 2019.

In 2019, the global card industry’s personalization and fulfillment services totaled $8.39 billion USD, which was 2.7% more than the prior year. Asia Pacific generated the most personalization and fulfillment revenue at $2.78 billion USD, which was 2.5% more than in 2018. This revenue growth was driven by the SIM and financial card market segments. Asia Pacific’s personalization and fulfillment services are valued lower per unit than North America’s and Europe’s due to overall lower pricing and indirect distribution, which means the issuer provides fulfillment services and materials at the financial and retail branches and government offices where customers pick up their cards. North America ranked second in this category with $2.49 billion USD, up 6.7% from the prior year. This growth was driven by centralized issuing and direct distribution of higher valued personalization and fulfillment services in financial, gift and retail and gas issued cards. Europe’s personalization and fulfillment revenue totaled $2.02 billion USD, basically flat over 2018. The European market is driven by centralized issuing and direct distribution of higher valued personalization and fulfillment services in financial, government/health and retail and gas issued cards.

The 2019 global card manufacturing industry is valued at $18.65 billion USD and the personalization and fulfillment services market is valued at $8.4 billion USD. The $27 billion USD global card industry drives commerce, security and technology while providing opportunities and employment for thousands of individuals around the world.

Global Financial

The financial card market, which includes credit, debit, prepaid and ATM cards, is the highest-profile card and personalization and fulfillment segment in the world. It is the largest segment with 5.59 billion cards manufactured in 2019 for 15% of the global share. At $3.87 billion USD, it is the third largest revenue market with 21% share of the global dollar volume. There were 4.86 billion financial cards that received personalization and fulfillment services, valued at $2.22 billion USD, in 2019.

There are new innovations and technologies impacting the future growth of the financial card segment. Card issuers are increasing card expiration dates and the use of smartphone apps that support contactless card transactions is growing along with other payment technologies that do not support cards. Unit growth in this market segment will subside while its revenue remains buoyant, particularly as contactless and dual-interface cards continue to penetrate. Financial cards will remain in the market for several years to come.

Global SIM

Global SIM cards carry a chip that operates millions of mobile phones and devices. The global SIM card market had the second largest dollar volume in 2019 with $4.59 billion USD, representing 25% of the global dollar card market and ranked second in units with nearly 5.5 billion cards representing 15% of global units.

Dollar revenue growth in this market has rapidly declined as chip prices decrease. Card unit growth in this market segment is driven by SIM-enabled devices and smartphones. Slower consumer demand for frequent phone upgrades and growth of embedded SIMs are a threat to this market. However, it currently has a significant unit and dollar market value, which continue to make it an appealing segment.

Global Gift Cards

Gift cards are usually traditional cards typically used for “closed loop” branded retail transactions. Gift cards are the third largest global unit card market with 5.24 billion cards manufactured, up 7.1% over the prior year. Card manufacturing dollar revenue was $447 million USD. Personalization and fulfillment services for these cards totaled $1.03 billion USD in 2019, up 12.3% over 2018.

The majority of cards are manufactured in the third quarter for the Christmas season. Although the gift card market is mature in North America and the United Kingdom, it continues to moderately grow in these regions while experiencing robust growth in the rest of the world.  Despite the introduction of digital gift cards, consumers prefer an impactful physical plastic card for gift giving.

Global Prepaid Phone

Global prepaid phone cards are generally thin plastic or composite paper based and are used to enable or access mobile phones, payphones and the internet. In 2019, it was the fourth largest global card unit market segment with 4.44 billion units. It had $225 million USD revenue for cards manufactured while personalization and fulfillment revenue was $326 million USD. Since there are alternative applications to enable prepaid phones, this market is rapidly declining.

Global Government/Health Care

This market segment has a diverse range of applications, including government benefits, health care, national IDs, drivers’ licenses and passport cards. The government/health care card market is the fifth largest global unit market with 4 billion cards, up 5.5% from 2018, and the largest global dollar market at $4.84 billion USD, which is up 12.3% over the prior year.

The market has been positively impacted with the trend toward chip card credentials, the shift to e-documents and innovative card technologies such as biometrics, government-imposed ID standards and security and fraud issues.

Global Transportation

The global transportation “closed loop” card market segment is focused on ticketing for mass transit systems. There were 3.04 billion transportation cards manufactured and personalized in 2019, up 6.5% over the prior year. It is the fourth largest dollar card market valued at $1.56 billion USD with an additional $385 million USD for personalization and fulfillment services. This market has increasingly grown, as it continues to embrace smart contactless card ticketing. Financial “open loop” branded cards, which are included in the financial market category, are now more frequently accepted by transit systems.

Global Retail & Gas

Global retail cards and gas cards are manufactured to standards similar to financial cards. In 2019, there were 2.62 billion retail cards and gas cards manufactured for a revenue of $1.3 billion USD and personalized and fulfilled for an additional revenue of $985 million USD. It is the seventh largest card unit market and personalization and fulfillment market. The U.S. market for gas cards will increase as it continues with chip card conversion.

Global Bank Cards

In 2019, there were 1.92 billion cards manufactured for a revenue of $241 million USD. Market growth is driven by instant issuance, a demand from smaller single card printers, as well as chip card growth.

Global Loyalty and Promotional

The global loyalty and promotional market encompasses numerous applications for frequent customers who receive reward points and awards for their loyalty. In 2019, there were 1.88 billion loyalty and promotional cards manufactured giving the market a ranking of ninth. This market will continue to experience pressure from paper and digital cards, as well as smartphone applications. However, this market is growing in the Asia Pacific and MEA regions as they embrace these card products.

Global Access Control

Access control cards provide access or entry into secure/private areas, such as hotel rooms, gated entrances, facilities and restricted areas. There were 1.76 billion cards manufactured for a revenue of $880 million USD in 2019. New technology and demand for increased security are driving the growth of this card market segment globally.

Global ID/Membership

The ID and membership card market does not include security documents issued by governments but is focused on cards that are issued for associations, institutions and clubs. There were 751 million cards manufactured in 2019. Smartphone apps threaten the future growth of this market.

The information in this article was derived from my annual reports on the trends, opportunities, growth and forecast in the global card manufacturing and personalization and fulfillment markets. The reports provide a comprehensive overview of 12 vertical market segments for both the card and personalization and fulfillment sectors of the industry. This article represents an overview of the 42-page card report and 37-page personalization and fulfillment report. 

All of the data for these reports have been garnered from primary and secondary research and statistical modeling. ICMA makes every effort to ensure that the information presented is reasonably correct and complete. ICMA does not guarantee the accuracy of any of the data presented and cannot be held liable for the use of or reliance on the information presented. 

The 2019 Global Card Market and Personalization/Fulfillment Reports are now available in the member-only section of Members can download the reports for free. Non-members can purchase the reports by emailing

About the Author: Al Vrancart is founder emeritus and industry advisor of ICMA. With more than 40 years of business experience, Vrancart previously served as president/CEO of NBS and Qualteq. His guidance and counsel have helped ICMA and other industry associations effectively and successfully implement growth initiatives. He is strategically focused on global and regional industry market statistics, metrics and trends.