Nilson Report

Issue 1191 | Feb 2021


Companies featured in this issue include:

U.S. General Purpose Brands–Purchase Volume in 2020

U.S. General Purpose Cards with Change vs. 2019

U.S. Credit Card Outstandings with Change vs. 2019

Market Shares of Purchase Volume on General Purpose Cards in the U.S.

General Purpose Credit Cards in the U.S.

Purchase Volume on Mastercard and Visa Credit and Debit Cards

Visa vs. Mastercard Credit and Debit Cards in Circulation 2010-2020

Credit, Debit & Prepaid Cards

Debit & Prepaid Cards

Investments & Acquisitions–January 2021

Credit Card Outstandings in the U.S.

Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover credit card outstandings at year-end 2020 declined 14.9% from 2019 to $866.28 billion.

$418.05 billion, -15.0%
$274.78 billion, -15.5%
American Express
$101.99 billion, -17.5%
$71.47 billion, -7.4%

Full access to the U.S. Credit Card Outstandings in 2020 results is available when you subscribe to the Nilson Report.



BNP Paribas Launches Biometric Card

France’s second largest credit card issuer is BNP Paribas. The bank’s 6.8 million credit cards generate over $58 billion in purchase volume annually. This year BNP Paribas will offer 15,000 fingerprint-enabled biometric credit cards to its card base—if customers are willing to pay a $29 (€24) fee. Initial offers have been made to BNP Paribas’s Visa Premier card customers who already pay a $162 (€134) annual fee for that upscale product. 

The biometric cards, which are manufactured by Thales, the largest payment card vendor in the world, incorporates sensors from Fingerprint Cards. Thales and Fingerprint Cards have worked on biometric card pilot tests since 2018. Banks in Cyprus, Italy and Lebanon were the first to test contactless biometric cards. In 2019, issuers in the U.K., France and Switzerland conducted trials. More trials are expected this year. 

At point-of-sale terminals, BNP Paribas’s biometric card triggers contactless payments not subject to the $61 (€50) per-transaction purchase limit imposed in France. 

Switzerland’s Cornercard was the first issuer in Europe to launch biometric cards. BNP Paribas is the first issuer in France to offer them, although others are expected to announce rollouts this year.


Frederic Martinez is Head, Biometric & Advanced Payment Marketing at Thales in Gémenos, France,,

Prior issues: 1182, 1162, 1161, 1156, 1149, 1143, 1141, 1135, 1131, 1130, 1124

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