The number of payment cards are set to increase from 7.4 billion in 2009 to more than 10 billion worldwide by 2014, as per the latest study titled 'Global Payment Cards Data and Forecasts 2009-2014' by Retail Banking Research (RBR).

According to the study conducted across 65 countries, on a global level the payment card market continued to expand at a healthy rate, even against the difficult economic backdrop of the past couple of years.

Although Asia-Pacific has the highest share of cards, it is western Europe and North America that stand out as being the most mature regions, as they have the highest ratios of cards per adult, as well as the highest numbers of payments per card.

The share of debit cards is continuing to increase and currently accounts for 62% of cards worldwide. The share of debit cards is being boosted by the conversion of ATM-only cards to include POS functionality in a number of countries, especially in Asia-Pacific, as well as the issuance of prepaid cards, according to the report.

The report predicts that the share of debit cards will increase significantly in the coming years, as the banked population rises in countries where account holding is currently low, encouraged by government-backed campaigns.

Credit cards will see their share fall as individuals holding cards for the first time will usually be issued with a debit (or prepaid) card rather than a credit card. This sector nevertheless holds potential for expansion once confidence is restored after the effects of the credit crisis have worn off, and as credit bureaux become established in more countries.

According to RBR, the volume of card payments will rise by an average of 7.7% per year to 191 billion in 2014.

RBR provides strategic research and consulting services to organisations active in the areas of banking automation, ATMs, cards and payments.