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Pakistan Cards & Payments Market Report

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  • Published Date: October 2021


The market report gives a comprehensive overview of Pakistan's cards, payments and consumer banking market, with clearsighted commentary backed by relevant data.
This market is primed for a massive shift toward digital payments thanks to the convergence of government policy, banking establishment ambitions and an exponential rise in mobile phone usage.
With an enormous unbanked population, new low-cost bank accounts for lower-income groups and the 2016 launch of a domestic payment card scheme PayPak (extended in 2021 for e-commerce use), have proved decisive.
Armed with this report, new players will fare better if partnered with local financial institutions.

What you can learn from this Pakistan cards market report:

How government strategy is transforming Pakistan payments.
Which initiatives have worked – and which have not.
Why Pakistan is a greenfield market for credit cards.
How the domestic debit scheme has fared since its launch.


  • At almost 90 percent of all transactions in the country, cash is Pakistan's most popular payment option. Just 28 percent of adults had a bank account in 2020.
  • Branchless banking, a mobile payments option for the unbanked, operates through a little under half a million agents, serving some 37 million active accounts as of 2020.
  • There were only 1.7 million credit cards and 27.6 million debit cards in circulation in 2020; combined purchase volume reached $3 billion from 107m transactions in that year.
  • Online spending volumes have increased markedly, spurred by pandemic-related restrictions.
  • Five local issuers dominate credit cards: Bank Alfalah, HBL, MCB, Askari Bank and UBL. This quintet was responsible for some three-quarters of the market at the end of 2020.
  • Pre-tax profits in credit cards reached an estimated $49 million in 2020--the preponderance of Premium credit cards, with high rollover rates and fees, fuels this performance.
  • Visa and Mastercard are the leading networks. However, UnionPay has grown over the past few years to become the second-ranked debit card network by cards in issue. The domestic debit scheme PayPak is also present.
  • Merchant acquiring services in Pakistan are offered by just nine banks, who are also the country's major card issuers.
  • To promote greater competition in merchant acquiring, the central bank has capped the merchant service fee for POS payments at between 1.5 and 2.5 percent since April 2020.
  • Branchless banking is growing at a phenomenal rate, with the number of customers trebling to 15 million in 2015.
  • Despite three years of strong growth, consumer credit outstandings in Pakistan remain below pre-crisis levels.

Pakistan Payments Research | Report Contents

Demographics and the economy
Payments environment
Cards market
Mobile payments
Profit pool
The networks
Key retail banks and issuers
Acquiring and processing
Online acquiring
Regulatory and other cards market information

Pakistan Country Report Data Tables
(All 2015-24F unless otherwise stated)

1: Demographic and economic indicators.
2: Ownership of key consumer devices.
3: Internet usage by population.
4: Access points: 2015-22E.
5: Account penetration.
6: Consumer payment: trends 2015-22F.
7: B2C e-commerce payment methods: 2015-22F.
8: Total card payment metrics.
9: Contactless cards metrics.
10: Credit card numbers.
11: Total credit cards metrics.
12: Credit card profitability indicators.
13: Debit card numbers.
14: Debit card metrics.
15: Prepaid/e-money card metrics.
16: Mobile proximity payment metrics: 2017-24F.
17: Mobile P2P payments.
18: Profit pool: credit card numbers, billed volumes, outstandings, interest incomes, net interest revenues, merchant revenues, card fee revenues, other non-interest incomes, total revenues, net credit losses, operating expenses, total expenses, pre-tax profits, merchant service charges, rollover rates, APR, net credit losses to outstandings, operating costs to revenues, ROA (pre-tax profits to outstandings).

(All 2015-22F below unless otherwise stated)

19: Networks' credit card market shares.
20: Networks' credit card data numbers.
21 Networks' credit card billed volume.
22: Networks' number of credit card transactions.
23: Networks' average credit card transaction value.
24: Credit card interchange fees by network.
25: Networks' debit card market shares.
26: Networks' debit card data numbers.
27: Networks' debit card billed volume.
28: Networks' number of debit card transactions.
29: Networks' average debit card transaction value.
30: Debit card interchange fees by network.
31: Key credit card issuers market shares by credit card numbers: 2017-22F.
32: Key issuers market shares in credit card outstandings: 2017-22F.
33: Key debit card issuers market shares by debit card numbers: 2017-22F.
34: Merchant acquirer credit card market share: 2021E.
35: Credit card merchant service charges: 2015-24F.
36: Merchant acquirer debit card market share: 2021E.
37: Debit card merchant service charges: 2015-24F.
38: Credit card issuer/issuing processor relationships: -
39: Credit card acquirer/acquiring processor relationships: -
40: Credit card issuing processor market shares by card numbers: 2021E.
41: Credit card acquiring processor market shares by the number of POS transactions: 2021E.
42: Online merchant acquirer market share: 2021E.

Pakistan Country Report | Selected Extracts

Demographics and Economy
Around nine million people of Pakistani origin live and work outside the country. They are a critical part of the economy, with foreign remittances supporting the country's balance sheet. In the first half of 2021, remittance inflows totalled $14 billion.

Payments Environment
Payment cards are not a popular payment option in the country. In 2020, there were just 1.7 million credit cards and 27.6 million debit cards in circulation, with a combined transaction value of $43 billion from 592 million transactions.

Cards market
At the end of 2020, there were 41 million payments cards in circulation in Pakistan. Payment cards here include credit, debit, proprietary, social welfare and prepaid cards.

Mobile Payments
With mobile wallet penetration expected to increase substantially over the next few years, it is expected that social welfare payments and other B2C payments will increasingly be disbursed through this channel.

Profit Pool
At the end of 2020, there were 1.7 million issued credit cards in this market: it is estimated that this total will increase by around 7% to reach 1.8 million cards in 2024.

Card Networks:
Visa is the market leader in terms of the number of credit cards in circulation and billed volume with a market share of 73% and 68% in 2020, respectively. At about 70% in 2021, Pakistan has one of the highest proportions of unbanked adults in the world. There are just 30 million debit cards in circulation among 135 million adults in 2021.

Key Retail Banks and Issuers
There were 33 retail banks and 11 microfinance banks operating in Pakistan as of June 2021. The top five retail banks, in terms of asset value, are Habib Bank Limited (HBL), National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), United Bank Limited (UBL), Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB) and Allied Bank.

Acquiring and Processing
Merchant acquiring services in Pakistan are offered by nine banks, which are also some of the country's major card issuers. Major issuers in the country have traditionally kept all issuing-processing operations in house and typically only outsource card printing and embossing operations

Online Acquiring
E-commerce is at an early stage of development in Pakistan and falls significantly behind its peers in the region. Pakistan's B2C online sales were estimated at $1.3 billion in 2020, boosted by the country's lockdown measures.

Regulatory and Markets Information
As the official regulatory body overseeing the banking sector in Pakistan, the SPB (State Bank of Pakistan, central bank of the country) ensures that banks comply with local and global regulatory standards

Pakistan Payments Report | Entities Referenced

Abu Dhabi Group
Allied Bank
American Express
Arab Financial Services
Askari Bank
Bank AL Habib
Bank Alfalah
Bank of Khyber
Barclays Bank
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
Credit Information Bureau
Direct Sales Agents
Dubai Islamic Bank
Electronic Credit Information Bureau
Faysal Bank
First Data
Habib Bank
International Finance Corporation
Meezan Bank
Mobilink Microfinance Bank
Muslim Commercial Bank
National Bank of Pakistan
Network International
Orix Leasing
Pakistan International Airlines
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority
Social Security Programme
Soneri Bank
Standard Chartered Bank
State Bank of Pakistan
Tameer Microfinance Bank
United Bank Limited
World Bank


Reports include detailed market and competitor intelligence on payments cards, e-money, acquiring, retail banking, and consumer credit in the Asia Pacific region. Analysts use primary and secondary source data and conduct in-depth interviews with senior industry executives and finance experts.

See more Asia-Pacific Country Reports or explore the full range of cards and payments reports available for markets worldwide or view our latest reports.

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