Nilson Report

Issue 1197 | May 2021


Companies featured in this issue include:

Europe’s Top Merchant Acquirers—Ranked by Purchase Volume

Europe’s Top Acquirers of Domestic Credit and Debit Cards

Europe’s 45 Largest Merchant Acquirers—Ranked by Mastercard and Visa Transactions

Top Acquirers of Web Transactions in Europe

U.S. General Purpose First Quarter Card Results 

Investments & Acquisitions—April 2021

U.S. General Purpose First Quarter Card Results

Card results for the first quarter of 2021 for Visa, Mastercard, Amex and Discover, including purchase volume (spending for goods and services) and purchase transactions are presented in this issue. Credit card purchase volume is shown below.

$500.47 billion purchase volume, +1.6%
$219.90 billion purchase volume, +1.4%
American Express
$185.95 billion purchase volume, -3.7%
$37.74 billion purchase volume, +11.1%

Full access to the U.S. General Purpose First Quarter Card Results with change versus first quarter 2020 is available when you subscribe to the Nilson Report.



Overdraft Reform from PNC

PNC Bank is the 4th largest issuer of debit cards in the United States. The company recently launched an overhaul to its overdraft policy that will inform consumers of an impending overdraft and concurrent charge and eliminate it if the consumer cures the overdraft within a set timeframe.

PNC calls the service Low Cash Mode. Users will set a cash threshold and receive a notification any time the account dips below that balance. If an overdraft occurs, a countdown clock is activated and options to fund the account are suggested. The clock starts with a minimum of 24 hours. 

Low Cash Mode is a feature of PNC’s Virtual Wallet product, which consists of a Spend Account (checking), a Growth Account (savings) and a Reserve Account, which partitions money used for monthly bills. A service called Danger Days warns consumers in advance when they have insufficient funds in their account to pay for expected spending on rent or car payments. Payment Control lets users see pending ACH transactions that could cause an overdraft and to flip a digital switch to return a payment.

PNC’s Virtual Wallet is available via app or online and is used by around half of its customers. Low Cash Mode has launched with the company’s 1.1 million Virtual Wallet Student customers and will roll out to other customers through July. A pilot test with 17,000 users showed a 60% decline in overdraft charges.

Inquiries related to overdraft fees are one of the most frequent reasons for calls to PNC’s customer service center. The bank is expected to benefit from reduced call center volume.

PNC estimates that U.S. consumers are charged $17 billion in overdraft fees annually. The bank expects to forgo $125 million to $150 million in charges with Low Cash Mode and plans a new overdraft policy that limits fees to a single $36 charge. It will not charge an insufficient funds fee when an item is returned.

PNC announced in November that it will acquire the U.S. operations of BBVA for $11.6 billion. BBVA is the 24th largest issuer of debit cards in the U.S. Those customers will be offered the Low Cash Mode service.


Karen Larrimer is Head of Retail Banking and Chief Customer Officer at PNC in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,,

© Copyright 2021 Nilson Report

You have 1 free articles remaining. Subscribe today. View Subscription Offer
New subscribers receive over 130 articles in the 22 issues published each year,
plus the last five years of issues (that's over 1,200 articles) on a searchable flash drive.