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United States Country Report

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  • Published Date: February 2020

A comprehensive overview of the cards, payments and merchant acquirer market in the United States, with clearsighted commentary backed by in-depth data.

The USA's point-of-sale is on the cusp of a revolution, as over half of debit and credit cards should be contactless-enabled by mid-2021. Other changes are happening in less tangible realms: the Fed is developing a new real-time payments network, intended, among other things, to prise consumers away from their beloved cheque books. Rewards competition may be peaking, but the US cards industry remains buoyant and is experiencing profits to match. Zelle and Venmo are making mobile P2P payments popular, particularly among younger segments. US merchants are looking for simple but powerful solutions, leading to integrated payments systems driving growth in merchant acquiring.

What you will learn from this US payments research report:

  • How contactless will boost revenue for issuers and networks
  • How the US cards industry profit pool has evolved
  • Which technology may undermine mobile payments
  • Where issuers are carving out competitive advantages
  • Why scale is so vital to merchant acquirers in the United States


  • The United States' credit cards market has been booming, thanks to an intensified focus on high-spending prime customers.
  • US credit card spending is fuelled by generous rewards offerings, made possible by high interchange fees.
  • Interchange fees have been rising due to growth in online spend and Premium cards.
  • Cobrand partnerships are important differentiators for issuers, with Big Tech brands increasingly prevalent.
  • Visa and Mastercard continue to benefit from growth in US card spend but have also been diversifying into alternative payments.
  • American Express has reached acceptance parity with Visa and Mastercard, indicating a change of direction for the brand.
  • The ten largest US payment card issuers are committed to completing the rollout of contactless payment card portfolios by the end of 2020.
  • The Federal Reserve is developing a new interbank real-time payments system to compete with The Clearing House's existing service.
  • Three major mergers reshaped the American acquiring market in 2019: FIS/Worldpay, Fiserv/First Data and Global Payments/ TSYS.
  • The US regulatory environment has been softened over the last two years, with several reforms to the Dodd-Frank Act.

United States Payments Research | Report Contents

Excerpts from the US card payments Country Report

Demographics and the economy
Americans are keen consumers of electronic products to the extent that smartphone penetration reached 80 smartphones per 100 inhabitants at the end of 2018.

Payments environment
The US remains by far the most profitable payment cards market in the world and, among payment cards, credit cards are the most popular transactional instrument: over 55% of total purchase volume by card during 2019 was carried out using credit cards.

Cards market
The US payment cards market enjoys great consumer penetration and merchant acceptance. The average adult made almost 500 card purchases in 2018, placing American consumers among the most active card users in the world.

Mobile payments
Adoption of mobile payments in the United States has been slow compared to that seen in other developed markets, even though around 80% of Americans owned a smartphone at the end of 2019.

Profit pool
Credit cards continue to be a big revenue driver for American banks. According to VFR's profit pool model, pre-tax profits reached $35 billion in 2019. This equates to around one-third of global credit card profits.

The card networks
A quartet of networks – Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover – control the credit cards market . . . with Visa and Mastercard as the dominant players. Visa is the leading network in terms of both the number of cards and billed volume . . . Merchants are more willing to accept PIN debit cards because they are charged a lower fee for such transactions, as they are routed directly through the automated electronic funds transfer (EFT) system.

Key retail banks and issuers
A small number of large banks hold a commanding position in the retail banking sector, most notably JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citibank. However, there is a long tail of smaller competitors, including regional and specialist players, ensuring healthy competition.

Acquiring and processing
The American merchant acquiring market is a highly attractive and profitable one. Although regulations have been put in place to reduce debit card interchange fees, credit card MSCs remain unregulated.

Online acquiring
The e-commerce market in the United States has remained strong, increasing by double-digit percentage rates throughout the period under review.

Regulatory and other cards market information
Financial services companies are subject to regulation at both the state and federal level. The sector is subject to federal consumer protection, anti-money laundering conditions and various state licensing, safety and consumer protection requirements.

Appendices: United States Card Payments 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 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

  • 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 (signature debit cards: exempt)
  • Debit card interchange fees by network (signature and PIN debit cards: regulated)

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
  • Key private label card issuers market shares by credit card numbers

Appendix VIII: Acquiring 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

United States Payments Trends | Entities Referenced

Acce Active Network Advent International Alipay Alliance Data Amazon Amazon Pay Amazon Payments American Express Android Pay Apple Apple Card Apple Pay Authorize.Net Bain Capital BAMS Bank of America Bank of America Merchant Services Bank of Delaware Bank of Italy BankAmerica BankAmericard Bankcorp Bank Barclaycard BB&T BBVA Compass Best Buy Blackhawk Network Bluebird BluePay BofA BofA Merchant Services Braintree Capital One CARD Act CardConnect Cayan CFPB Chase Chase Merchant Services Chase Pay Chevron Chime Citi Citi Retail Services Citibank Citigroup City Bank of New York Coca-Cola Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Costco Crédit Mutuel Arkéa CU24 Culiance Current Cybersource Dean Witter, Discover & Co. Delta Diners Club Discover Bank Disney Dodd-Frank Act Durbin Amendment Early Warning Services Earthport eBay Elavon Ethereum Ethoca ExxonMobil Facebook Fed Federal Reserve FedNow FFMC Fidelity National Information Services Fifth Third Bank Financial Crimes Enforcement Network FinCEN First Data First Financial Management Corp First National City Bank of New York FIS Fiserv FraudSight GE Capital Retail Bank Global Payments Gmail Goldman Sachs Google Google Pay Google Wallet Green Dot Grubhub Heartland Payment Systems Hilton Home Depot IBM ICBA Interbank Card Association Interlink JC Penney Jeanie JPMorgan Chase La Banque Postale Libra MABA Macy's Maestro Master Charge Mastercard Microsoft Mid-America Bankcard Association Morgan Stanley N26 National Data Corporation National-BankAmericard NationsBank Navy Nets Netspend Nissan Nova Information Systems NYCE OakStone Financial OnDeck Orbital PayPal PayPros PaySimple Plaid PNC Bank PULSE Quorum RBS Realex Payments Regulation II Revolut Roostify Sage Samsung Pay Santander Sears Sezzle Shell SICOM Signet Financial Simple Square Cash Stanford Federal Credit Union STAR Starbucks Stockpile Stripe SunTrust Bank Synchrony Financial TCH TD Bank The Clearing House Transfast Transfirst TSYS U.S. Bancorp U.S. Bank U.S. Payments Forum United Airlines US Treasury USAA Vantiv Venmo Visa Vyze Walmart Wells Fargo Worldpay Zelle


Verisk Financial Research reports deliver market and competitor intelligence on payments cards, e-money, acquiring/processing, retail banking, and consumer credit in North America. Researchers use both primary and secondary source data and conduct in-depth interviews with senior industry executives and North American experts.

See more North America Country Reports or explore the full range of financial research reports for 72 cards and payments markets worldwide.

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