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The new year begins with American cardholders in a very different place from where they were a year ago: rather than paying off balances and building up savings, persistent inflation has seen credit-card balances rise and, with interest rates climbing in the quest for price stabilisation, APRs are now inexorably creeping up too. According to data quoted by CNBC, almost half (46 percent) of credit cardholders are now revolving their debt : a much more expensive undertaking for consumers now that the average APR, including fees, is drawing close to 20 percent.
(A new Bank of America release meanwhile notes that total (debit plus credit) card spending rose by just under six percent for the year, with Services up by a tenth versus Retail's 3.7 percent.)
In Britain, also a credit-card stronghold but one currently living through a harsher cost-of-living squeeze, data being reported by Bloomberg calculates the average APR for a new card including fees at 30.4 percent. "As well as increasing rates, credit-card providers have been making their terms less attractive on average," notes the article: "Over the past 12 months, balance-transfer fees have risen and the interest-free balance-transfer term has shrunk".
Both countries remain the West's most profitable payments markets and are the subject of new market reports from Argus Advisory Research, whose studies reveal a structural shift to online channels for credit-card spend : the American POS is forecast to see half the billed volume of the online channel by the end of next year, with the UK seeing online becoming even more prominent in coming years, though significantly below the US level.
Chinese company ByteDance has been steadily improving its payments infrastructure to cope with the ever-swelling transaction streams flowing from its TikTok app, whose worldwide spend rose by 70 percent last year to reach $3.4 billion. Spend in the company's US market trebled in 2022 according to data reported this week by Forbes, which noted too that J.P. Morgan has been assisting ByteDance in making these flows as efficient as possible across its system.
According to the report, several JPM executives have indeed joined ByteDance, which hopes that its overseas operations will emulate the performance of its domestic Douyin brand. Douyin generates most of its revenue from in-stream commerce, a feature recently enabled for its almost 90 million American users.
Last month's figures for India's instant payments platform, UPI, were not only recordbreaking but also breathtaking: the system handled 7.82 billion transactions, over seven percent higher than the month before to reach a value of 12.82 trillion rupees ($154.8bn).
Having established a user base numbering well over half a billion though its P2P capabilities, UPI is now being increasingly used at the point of sale, especially by smaller merchants understandably attracted by the mandated fee-free ('zero-MDR') policy. That policy has drawn criticism from payments stakeholders suffering from curtailed revenues. Now the authorities in New Delhi have responded to financial-sustainability concerns with a package worth $320m to promote domestic scheme RuPay and low-value BHIM-UPI transactions.
That is not the only good news for UPI proponents as, according to the Times of India last week: "The adoption of the RuPay credit feature on UPI by larger credit issuers, including HDFC Bank and three public sector issuers, is expected to boost UPI transactions further".
Other stories of interest this week...
China: Founder Jack Ma to cede control of Ant Group
Germany: Neobank Ruuky files for insolvency amid venture capital drought
Global: Twitter may soon launch 'coins', allowing reward of creators
US: CFPB proposing public database of nonbank lenders' contractual small print
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The Weekly News Digest from Argus Advisory Research highlights significant developments in payment cards, digital payments, acquiring, processing, retail banking and consumer credit. Our writers and researchers frame these items in contexts such as historical, sectoral and regional trends, adding a layer of value often missing from the rolling news cycle.
About Argus Advisory Research The market-leading online, interactive database and data dashboards covering the global cards and payments industry in detail, plus a range of data-packed country and regional reports. Leveraging financial cards data going back to 2010 – and forecasts up to 2025 – our unique datasets cover countries around the world and feature more than 250 metrics per market.