In July 2019, the number of debit cards grew to 840.6 million, an addition of 3.7 million new cardholders over June. At the same time, a total of 50.3 million credit cards were in operation, with the addition of 0.62 million cards, according to the Reserve Bank of India. Between July 2018 and July 2019, India added some 10.1 million credit cards and lost over 121.4 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 there have been no spikes in usage.
The number of transactions using credit cards at POS terminals (or swipe machines) grew by 23% year-on-year, while it increased by 14.6% for debit cards for the 12-month period ending July 2019. In July 2019, the total number of POS transactions through credit cards was 178.4 million, while the figure for debit cards was 420.8 million.
Total amount transacted through credit cards at POS terminals — which was Rs 59,616 crore in July 2019 — increased by 24.8% in the 12-month period ending July 2019. The amount transacted using POS terminals through debit cards went up by 20.3% during the same time. In July 2019, Rs 58,102 crore was 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 July 2019, debit card transaction amounts were slightly lesser than those of the credit card transaction amounts.
The total amount transacted through credit cards at POS terminals grew by Rs 2,713 crore in July 2019, while the amount transacted through debit cards increased by Rs 1,059 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 July 2018 and July 2019. For debit cards, it grew negligibly during the same period.