Global Card Industry Loses $3B in 2020

By Jennifer Kohlhepp, Managing Editor, ICMA

The COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted the global card industry in 2020. All regional geographic markets and vertical markets experienced significant declines in revenue, with few exceptions, for a total loss of $3 billion.

The 10.8% decrease from $27 billion in 2019 to $24 billion in 2020 includes revenue from cards manufactured as well as cards personalized and fulfilled around the globe.

ICMA’s analysis is based on its newly released 2020 Global Card Market and Personalization and Fulfillment Statistics Reports.

“The reports account for a bad year for the global card industry as a result of the pandemic and the impact of technology,” said Al Vrancart, ICMA founder emeritus and industry advisor. “The only good news is that the value of cards produced in North America increased because of the penetration of contactless cards in the U.S. market. But remember, the rest of the world including Canada and the Caribbean has had contactless cards for several years.”

The number of cards manufactured globally decreased 19.7% from 37.1 billion cards in 2019 to 29.8 billion cards in 2020.

The number of cards personalized and fulfilled decreased 19.1% from 25.4 billion in 2019 to 24.9 billion in 2020.

The Asia Pacific region has the largest (41%) share of the industry, having manufactured $7.5 billion worth of cards and personalized and fulfilled $2.4 billion worth of cards in 2020. Europe has the second largest share (23.2%), having manufactured $3.9 billion worth of cards and personalized and fulfilled $1.7 billion worth of cards. North America has the third largest share (22.4%), having manufactured $3.3 billion worth of cards and personalized and fulfilled $2.1 billion worth of cards. Latin America has the fourth largest share, having manufactured $1.4 billion worth of cards and personalized and fulfilled $560 million worth of cards. The MEA region manufactured $775.5 million worth of cards and personalized and fulfilled $407 million worth of cards.

The card industry is comprised of traditional cards (with/without magnetic stripes, barcodes or QR codes) and chip cards (contact/contactless or dual interface). Traditional cards represent 46% of the total card units produced in 2020 at 13.8 billion cards, which is a decrease of 25.6 % from the number produced the previous year. These cards account for $1.7 billion of the overall value of the card industry, which is 19.8% less than in 2019. Chip cards represent 54% of the total card units produced and 90% of the overall value of the card industry. The number of chips cards produced declined 13.8% and their value decreased 8.4% from the prior year.

Among market segments, the financial card market segment experienced one of the smallest unit volume decreases, down 6.6% from 2019 to 5.2 billion in 2020. However, this market segment had the only revenue increase of 9% to $4.2 billion. These cards represent 17% of the global card unit volume and account for 25% of the global dollar share with the largest volumes manufactured in Asia Pacific followed by North America.

The government/health card market segment experienced a revenue decrease, down 4.5% from the prior year to $4.6 billion. The number of cards manufactured in this market segment decreased 6.5% to 3.8 billion with the largest volumes produced in the Asia Pacific and Europe.

The SIM card market segment experienced a 15% revenue decrease from 2019 to $3.9 billion in 2020. The number of SIM cards manufactured globally decreased 13.9% to 4.7 billion with the largest volumes produced in the Asia Pacific and Europe.

The number of gift cards produced globally dropped 28% from the prior year to 3.8 billion with most cards being produced in North America. The gift card market’s revenue decreased 26.6% from the prior year to $328 million in 2020.

The retail and gas card market segment’s overall revenue dropped 5.7% to $1.2 billion with 2.3 billion cards produced, which is a decrease in unit volume of 13.3% from the prior year.

The transportation card market segment lost 36.2% globally in revenue, down to $994 million. The number of transportation cards produced globally dropped 39.4% to 1.8 million.

The prepaid phone card market is a rapidly declining market segment that produced 3.5 billion cards in 2020, down 22.4% from the prior year. This card market segment’s revenue decreased 20% from the prior year to $180 million.

The global card manufacturing market is valued at $16.8 billion and the personalization and fulfillment services market is valued at $7.2 billion, making the overall global card industry a $24 billion market.

ICMA’s comprehensive reports are a source of valuable card industry data generated from primary and secondary research, as well as statistical modeling created by Vrancart. The reports examine five regional markets: North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East/Africa and Asia Pacific. Within these regions, the reports analyzed card units manufactured in 12 vertical market segments: prepaid phone, SIM, financial, gift, government/health, retail and gas, transportation, loyalty and promotional, ID and membership, access control, blanks and other.

The full reports are available to ICMA members free in the member portal at icma.com. Non-members may purchase the set of two reports for $2,500 USD.

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