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Credit Card Issuers Face New Regulations/Visa and MasterCard Enjoy Global Growth, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Global consumers are awash in credit cards.  Visa, for example, had 4.2 billion card holders in mid-2023, on a global basis, while MasterCard had 2.9 billion as of the third quarter of 2023.  Other major credit card issuers include American Express, JCB (based in Tokyo) and Discover.
Another competitor in consumer payments is the e-commerce firm PayPal, which electronically debits customer’s checking accounts for online purchases.  As of the third quarter of 2023, PayPal had an estimated 428 million active users worldwide.  PayPal has adopted an open-source software strategy, which enables developers to easily incorporate PayPal into web sites.
Banks and stock brokerages have upped the ante in the affluent card holder market.  American Express has long been the leader in serving affluent customers, as well as providing cards for use by businesses, including major corporations.  Amex card users tend to be much more affluent than users of competing cards, and they charge more to their cards.  Amex’s Platinum and black Centurion cards are recognized as the purchasing cards for the wealthy.  Holders of those cards pay substantial annual fees.  In return, they receive excellent personal services, including the use of agents who can book travel arrangements, restaurant reservations and show tickets, as well as access to specialists who can help travelers in emergencies.
Competing organizations see no reason to leave affluent card holders to American Express.  Visa and MasterCard issuers such as Merrill Lynch have launched their own very high-level cards to compete.  Card holders who travel remain the most desired customers for card issuers.  Cards such as Citibank’s AAdvantage card, an American Airlines relationship that offers mileage rewards, and JP Morgan Chase’s Sapphire card are considered to be great successes.  Holders of these cards tend to rack up very high charges each year, receiving airline mileage rewards in exchange for their loyalty.  (Selling mileage awards to the credit card companies is one of the best profit centers for major airlines.)
In August 2019, tech giant Apple launched the Apple Card, a no-fee credit card that works through the company’s Apply Pay and Apple Wallet apps.  The card offers customers a graphic view of monthly spending, thereby encouraging fewer interest-bearing charges, and also offers a 2% Daily Cash rebate to customers each time they use the Apple Card with Apple Pay and 3% Daily Cash to select merchants including Uber and Uber Eats.  The company promises that its security and privacy architecture keeps purchases private, even within its own systems.  By the spring of 2022, Apple card had an estimated 6.7 million users in the U.S.

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