Nilson Report

THE CURRENT ISSUE: 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.



Citizens Bank started offering in-store and online point of sale financing options, including fixed monthly installments, to buyers of Apple iPhones in 2016. Within a year, the bank was building scale on the buy now, pay later (BNPL) platform it had built by adding partners in new merchant sectors, including Microsoft and Horizon Fitness. 

Over five million consumers have received $6.40 billion in BNPL loans from Citizens. Last month, the bank launched Citizens Pay, making it available to merchants as a consumer-facing brand. 

Unlike most fintechs that offer BNPL installment loans, Citizens issues buyers a line of credit they can use to finance multiple purchases from a seller. 

Those sellers can be merchants with annual sales in the $10-million to $25-million range that get paid through a virtual Mastercard credit card or large enterprises that receive multiple options for payment including financial settlement directly from Citizens.

Citizens Pay is available at a seller’s checkout page. In addition, the installment credit option is presented multiple times to customers as they navigate potential purchases. When buyers are offered 0% financing and other kinds of promotional loans, Citizens earns all of its revenue in the form of a merchant discount rate from the seller. Citizens also offers various installment loan products paid for by buyers, including long-term financing of big-ticket items up to $30,000.

In addition to merchants that can integrate the BNPL service at their websites and in-store, manufacturers can embed Citizens Pay financing into the products they sell through retailers, something Microsoft has done with Xbox All Access. 

A bank like Citizens has an advantage over third-party BNPL providers because it can access its own deposit base to finance installment loans. Nonbank BNPL firms need debt financing and other more expensive funding sources. 

Interviewed for this article

Andrew Rostami is President at Citizens Pay in Providence, Rhode Island,,

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