Covid-19 pandemic cuts demand for plastic cards

The total value of the global plastic cards market has fallen by US$3bn over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the number manufactured worldwide falling by 19.7% from 37.1bn in 2019 to 29.8bn in 2020, according to the International Card Manufacturers Association (ICMA).

ICMA International Card Manufacturers Association logo

The ICMA’s 2020 Global Card Market and Personalization and Fulfilment Statistics reports reveal that the total revenue from cards manufactured, personalised and fulfilled across the globe decreased by 10.8% from US$27bn in 2019 to US$24bn in 2020.

The reports also provide more detailed statistics for individual sectors of the plastic cards market. 

These show that, while the financial card market experienced a decrease in unit volume from 6.6bn in 2019 to 5.2bn in 2020, it was the only sector to see a revenue increase, up by 9% to US$4.2bn.

Market segments experiencing decreases in global revenue include transportation cards (down 36.2% to US$994m), gift cards (down 26.6% to US$328m), prepaid phone cards (down 20% to US$180m), SIM cards (down 15% to US$3.9bn), retail and gas cards (down 5.7% to US$1.2bn) and government/health cards (down 4.5% to US$4.6bn).

Regionally, Asia Pacific has the largest share of the industry at 41%, followed by Europe (23.2%) and North America (22.4%).

“The reports account for a bad year for the global plastic card manufacturing industry as a result of the pandemic and the impact of technology,” Payments Cards and Mobile reports the ICMA’s Al Vrancart as saying.

“The only good news is that the value of cards produced in North America increased because of the penetration of contactless cards in the US market. But remember, the rest of the world including Canada and the Caribbean has had contactless cards for several years.”

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