Global shipments of contactless payment cards top 2bn in 2021

Contactless card being tapped on payment device
ADOPTION: More than three-quarters of payment cards and modules shipped in 2021 were contactless

The total number of contactless payment cards and modules shipped globally exceeded 2bn for the first time and accounted for more than three-quarters of the overall total of 2.63bn smart payment card and module shipments during 2021 (76%), according to figures released by the Smart Payment Association (SPA).

SPA reports that an additional 269m contactless cards and modules were shipped in 2021 compared with the previous year and that the percentage of cards with contactless functionality has risen from 69% in 2020 and 59% in 2019 to reach 76% for 2021.

The figures also show that the number of eco-friendly cards shipped to issuers worldwide rose from 31m in 2020 to nearly 100m in 2021.

“All regions posted growth versus the previous year, except the USA due to an anticipated ‘down-cycle’ and China. Europe was the fastest growing market and CISMEA continued to grow versus the 2019 record year,” the SPA says.

“These numbers confirm that the demand for secure payment cards continues to grow: 2021 SPA shipments start to recover versus 2020, posting +5% growth.

“The SPA believes the figures would have been higher had it not been for the chip shortage affecting the industry. SPA members suffered from chip allocations preventing them from fully serving the demand of their customers.”

“Last year was again a challenge on its own. The ongoing pandemic continued with strong and unpredictable global supply disruptions. Our entire industry suffered from local lockdowns affecting the production and supply of chips, semi-finished goods and cards, as well as from associated air freight issues due to lower capacities,” SPA president Andreas Strobel adds.

“On the other hand, our sector itself shows strong resilience, in particular due to a further growing contactless card demand, driven by increased consumer needs towards a preference of easy, contact-free and secure payment methods.

“Overall, the figures indicate an upward trend in shipments, attributed to this higher consumer request for contactless cards.”

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