In May 2019, the number of debit cards sharply declined to 824.93 million, a reduction of 59.8 million existing cardholders. At the same time, a total of 48.9 million credit cards were in operation, with the addition of 0.92 million cards, according to the Reserve Bank of India. Between May 2018 and May 2019, India added some 10.3 million credit cards and lost over 100 million debit cards.
Card usage spiked during the months following demonetization, when the unavailability of cash forced people to use cards. Since then, both debit card and credit card usage has been increasing, and at times, range-bound, but we really aren’t seeing spikes in usage.
The number of transactions using credit cards at POS terminals or swipe machines grew by 25.8% year-on-year, while it increased by 15.8% for debit cards for the 12 month period ending May 2019. In May 2019, the total number of POS transactions through credit cards was 173.2 million, while the figure for debit cards was 407.6 million.
Total amount transacted through credit cards at POS terminals — which was Rs 61,258 crore in May 2019 — increased by 30.2% in the 12 month period ending May 2019. The amount transacted using POS terminals through debit cards went up by 23.2% during the same time. In May 2019, Rs 57,652 crore were transacted through debit cards at POS terminals.
Note that in the chart above, the amount transacted using debit cards had surpassed credit cards in November 2016, but from January 2018 onwards the amount transacted through credit cards and debit cards was nearly the same. In May 2019, credit card transaction amounts were slightly higher than those of the debit card transaction amounts.
The total amount transacted through credit cards at POS terminals grew by Rs 3,610 crore in May 2019, while the amount transacted through debit cards increased by Rs 2,694 crore.
At POS terminals, the average amount transacted per transaction using credit cards — which is an indication of the amount people are willing to spend in one transaction — increased marginally between May 2018 and May 2019. For debit cards, it grew during the same period.