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United Kingdom Country Report

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  • Published Date: December 2019

Verisk Financial Research provides a comprehensive and authoritative overview of the cards, payments and consumer banking market in the United Kingdom.

What you will learn from this UK cards market report:

  • The role of contactless in reshaping UK card payments
  • What moves are being made by incumbents and challengers
  • The preferences shaping UK credit/debit cardholding patterns
  • How the global schemes have been pre-empting disintermediation
  • Why there remains significant potential in the UK payments space


  • Thanks to progressive regulation and consumer adoption of modern technology, the United Kingdom has become one of the world's most advanced and competitive payments markets.
  • Britain is gradually moving to a cash-lite economy. The number of UK debit card purchase transactions surpassed the number of cash purchases for the first time in 2017.
  • This has been enabled by an ever-extending acceptance infrastructure: 4,935 POS terminals per 100,000 adults at the end of 2018, versus 3,132 the year before. In addition, more than half of UK card-present transactions are now contactless.
  • E-commerce has significantly contributed to more usage of payment cards: debit cards were the leading payment method for online transactions during 2019.
  • The UK credit cards market is highly competitive, as shown by the long interest-free periods offered for balance transfers.
  • Mastercard is gaining share in the debit cards market through winning issuer portfolios and supporting the growing challenger bank industry.
  • Lloyds, having acquired MBNA in 2017, is now the leading issuer for both credit and debit cards.
  • New regulations aim to reduce the number of consumers with problematic credit card indebtedness. UK regulators are currently concluding a review of the merchant acquiring industry, with a view to optimising outcomes for both merchants and consumers.

UK Payments Research | Report Contents

Demographics and Economy:
Outlines the key metrics and trends which influence the development of retail banking and payments in the country:

Payments Environment
Explores the structure of the local banking system, its infrastructure and the leading players.

Cards Market
Industry-leading credit card coverage. We detail the past present and future of the industry through our data and commentary.

  • UK credit card data
  • UK debit card data
  • UK contactless cards

Mobile Payments
Data and commentary on the growing mobile payments market in the UK.

Profit Pool
Profit pool analysis includes profitability, rollover rates, credit card revenues, annual fees and market competition.

The Card Networks
Extensive coverage of credit and debit card use in the UK, including the use of charge cards.

Retail Banks and Issuers
Market share of dominant retail banks in the UK and smaller retail banks and issuers

Acquiring snd Processing
Merchant acquirers' market share, service charges, card issuer and processor relationships

Online acquiring
Coverage of the rising adoption of e-commerce and the role of payment service providers.

Regulatory and Market Information
The regulatory landscape includes coverage of the payment systems regulations and European Union directives and open banking.

Appendices: UK Cards Payment Data

Appendix I: Demographics and the economy

  • Demographic and economic indicators
  • Ownership of key consumer devices
  • Internet usage by population

Appendix II: Payments environment

  • Access points
  • Account penetration
  • Consumer payment trends
  • B2C e-commerce payment methods

Appendix III: Cards market

  • Total cards payment metrics
  • Contactless cards metrics
  • Credit card data numbers
  • Total credit cards metrics
  • Credit cards profitability indicators
  • Debit cards numbers
  • Debit cards metrics
  • Prepaid/e-money cards metrics

Appendix IV: Mobile payments

  • Mobile proximity payment metrics
  • Mobile P2P payments

Appendix V: Profit pool

  • UK profit pool

Appendix VI: The card networks

  • Networks' credit card market shares
  • Networks' credit card numbers
  • Networks' credit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of credit card transactions
  • Networks' average credit card transaction value
  • Credit card interchange fees by network
  • Networks' debit card market shares
  • Networks' debit card numbers
  • Networks' debit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of debit card transactions
  • Networks' average debit card transaction value
  • Debit card interchange fees by network

Appendix VII: Key retail banks and issuers

  • Key credit card issuers market shares by credit card numbers
  • Key issuers market shares in credit card outstandings
  • Key debit card issuers market shares by debit card numbers

Appendix VIII: UK acquirers and processing

  • Merchant acquirer credit card market share
  • Credit card merchant service charges
  • Merchant acquirer debit card market share
  • Debit card merchant service charges
  • Credit card issuer/issuing processor relationships
  • Credit card acquirer/acquiring processor relationships
  • Credit card issuing processor market shares by card numbers
  • Credit card acquiring processor market shares by the number of POS transactions

Appendix IX: Online acquiring

  • Online merchant acquirer market share

UK Country Report | Selected Extracts

Demographics and the economy
Despite Brexit uncertainty, economic conditions in the UK have remained relatively benign since 2016. Unemployment has declined while GDP growth figures have remained in positive territory.

Payments environment
British consumers have proven to be enthusiastic adopters of modern technology when it comes to how they shop and how they pay. E-commerce has flourished, and this has contributed to the increase in electronic payments.

Cards market
Britain is Europe's biggest market for payment cards – and one of the world's most advanced and innovative. The market is also mature, with a high penetration rate of credit and debit cards by global standards.

Mobile payments
Most mobile wallets currently available in the UK run exclusively over card rails. There may be opportunities for players to offer differentiated services which leverage the FPS (Faster Payments Service) infrastructure and PSD2.

Profit pool
The United Kingdom's credit cards market is highly profitable; however, the market faces some headwinds. Most notably, the FCA's new rules on persistent debt already appear to be suppressing growth in credit card outstandings.

The card networks
The vast majority of debit cards are now Visa-branded debit cards. Mastercard, however, has inked deals with three issuers to migrate their portfolios to Mastercard, which will eat into Visa's market share over the next few years.

Key retail banks and issuers
Five banks dominate the British retail banking market: Lloyds Banking Group, RBS, HSBC, Barclays and Santander. These firms control around 86% of current accounts across the country.

Acquiring and processing
Britain's acquiring market is concentrated, with some 61% of credit card acquired billed volume in the hands of two main players – Barclaycard and Worldpay – both of which are also among the largest merchant acquirers globally.

Online acquiring
The United Kingdom is a global leader in e-commerce adoption: total online acquired billed volume made using payment cards reached an estimated $274 billion in 2019, through an estimated total of 2.7 billion transactions.

Regulatory and other cards market information
British banking and financial services institutions are subject to multiple regulations. The primary statute is the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. Additionally, data privacy is regulated by the Data Protection Act 1998.

UK Payments Report | Entities Referenced

Abbey National – Account information service providers – Advent International – Adyen – Aer Lingus – Alipay – Alliance & Leicester – Allied Irish Banks – Amazon – American Express – Android Pay – Apple – Apple Pay – Aqua Card – Argos – Asda – Atom Bank – Aviva – AXA – Bacs – Bain Capital – Bank of America – Bank of England – Bank of Ireland – Bank of Japan – Bank of Scotland – Barclaycard – Barclays – BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK – Bó – Bradford & Bingley – Braintree – British Court of Appeal – Capital One – Cardnet – Cardstream – Cheque and Credit Clearing Company – CMA – Competition and Markets Authority – Co-operative Bank – Coutts – Cult Pens – CyberSource – Danske Bank – DataCash – Diners Club – Discover – eBay – Elevon Merchant Services – European Central Bank – European Union – Exela Technologies – Facebook – Faster Payments Service – FCA – Fidelity National Information – Financial Conduct Authority – Financial Policy Committee – First Data – First Direct – FIS – Fiserv – FPS – Funky Pigeon – GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation – Global Payments – Google – Google Pay – Halifax – Hays Travel – HBOS – Hibu – HMV – HSBC – Ingenico – Intuit – iZettle – John Lewis Finance – JustGiving – KLM – Lex Autolease – LINK – Lloyds Bank – Lloyds Banking Group – Lufthansa – M&S Bank – Mastercard – MBNA – Metro Bank – Mobile Payments Service Company – Monzo – N26 – Nationwide – NatWest – NatWest Tyl – Netflix – New Payments Architecture – NewDay – Next – O2 – Oak Furnitureland – Open Banking – Oyster – Paddy Power – Pay by Bank app – Pay with Bank transfer – Pay.UK – Paym – Payment Systems Regulator – Payments UK – PayPal – PbBa – Pingit – PISPs – Play.com – PRA – Prudential Regulation Authority – PSD2 – PSR – RBS – Realex Payments – Request to Pay – Revised Payment Services Directive – Revolut – Richer Sounds – Royal Lancaster London – Sage Pay – Sainsbury's Bank – Samsung Pay – Santander – SCA – Scottish Widows – Secure Trading – Shop Direct – Special Resolution Unit – Spotify – Starling Bank – Stripe – Strong Customer Authentication – SumUp – Tesco Bank – TfL – Thai Airways – The Card Gallery – The Post Office – TransferWise – Transport for London – TSB – TSYS – Twitter – Uber – UK Payments Administration – Ulster Bank – UnionPay – Universal Credit – Universal Trust Service Provider – US Federal Reserve – UTSP – Vanquis Bank – Vantiv – Virgin Atlantic – Visa – Visa Europe – Vocalink – Vodafone – WHSmith – Worldpay – Yorkshire Bank


Verisk financial reports include detailed market and competitor intelligence on payments cards, e-money, acquiring, retail banking, and consumer credit in Europe. Analysts use primary and secondary source data and conduct in-depth interviews with senior industry executives and Europe finance experts.

See more European country reports or explore cards & payments research reports for 72 markets worldwide.

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