The number of bank-issue Visa smart cards in circulation has almost doubled in two years to reach 42 million worldwide, according to figures released by the international payments organisation.
Europe continues to dominate Visa smart card growth with some 34 million cards, followed by Asia Pacific with 6 million. Other regions, including the US, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, bring the total number of Visa branded smart cards to 42 million.
Gaylon Howe, executive vice president, consumer product platforms at Visa International, says: "When we last audited our smart card figures two years ago we had 23 million smart cards worldwide. We have now nearly doubled that figure and the pace of growth will only accelerate as more financial institutions begin to use chip technology."
Visa has introduced a number of major initiatives to encourage smart card growth, including a EUR168 million investment programme in the EU region alone. The payment card company is also offering banks substantial discounts on the cost of chip technology. This effort includes new Open Platform multi-application smart cards costing less than $3 each as well as discounts on both front and back end system components.
"While most of the Visa smart cards today are single application cards, such as credit or debit cards, there is growing demand for cards which are able to perform multiple functions and provide greater convenience and utility to the cardholder," says Howe. "We have been working with major vendors to bring down the cost of these cards and the systems that support them."