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ICMA report: COVID-19 cutting global demand for plastic cards

Andrew Hudson   ||   Feb 18, 2021  ||   

A series of new reports from the International Card Manufacturers Association (ICMA) suggest that COVID could be impacting demand across the global plastic card market. The ICMA report projects that the total value of the global plastic cards market has fallen by $3B over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the number of cards manufactured worldwide falling by 19.7% from 37.1B in 2019 to 29.8B in 2020.

The ICMA’s 2020 Global Card Market and Personalization and Fulfillment Statistics reports also reveals that the total revenue from cards manufactured, personalized and fulfilled across the globe decreased by 10.8% from $27B in 2019 to $24B in 2020. The reports also provide more detailed statistics for individual sectors of the plastic cards market.

“The reports account for a bad year for the global plastic card manufacturing industry as a result of the pandemic and the impact of technology,” says Al Vrancart, ICMA Founder.

“The only good news is that the value of cards produced in North America increased because of the penetration of contactless cards in the US market," says Vrancart. "But remember, the rest of the world including Canada and the Caribbean has had contactless cards for several years.”

Despite the financial card market experiencing a decrease in unit volume from 6.6B in 2019 to 5.2B in 2020, it was the only sector to see a revenue increase, up 9% to $4.2B.

Market segments experiencing decreases in global revenue included:

  • Transportation cards (down 36.2% to $994M)
  • Gift cards (down 26.6% to $328M)
  • Prepaid phone cards (down 20% to $180M)
  • SIM cards (down 15% to $3.9B)
  • Retail and gas cards (down 5.7% to $1.2B)
  • Government/health cards (down 4.5% to $4.6B)

Regionally, Asia Pacific has the largest share of the industry at 41%, followed by Europe (23.2%) and North America (22.4%). In 2020, North America manufactured an estimated $3.3 billion worth of cards and personalized and fulfilled an estimated $2.1 billion worth of cards.

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