The number of card-accepting merchant outlets worldwide rose by over seven million in 2015 to 54 million, according to RBR. Growth was especially strong in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa (MEA) and central and eastern Europe (CEE) where acceptance levels remain low. In Asia-Pacific, the number of merchant outlets where customers can use payment cards increased by 29% in 2015. China was responsible for much of this growth. Chinese merchants are racing to keep up with demand from the country’s vast population, especially in underserved rural areas.

Regulatory factors are having a positive impact on acceptance levels in several countries. Regulation is also bringing about further expansion in mature markets. In addition, technological advances are playing a major role, even in developed markets. Contactless is appealing to merchants that handle low-value payments and appreciate the reduced transaction times that the technology enables. Meanwhile, mPOS devices are improving acceptance among mobile merchants, such as taxis and tradespeople, for which fixed terminals are often not practical or cost-effective.

RBR’s Chris Herbert says: “Whether card acceptance is coming to an area for the first time, moving to lower value payments, or penetrating smaller merchants, the acquiring sector has a remarkable ability to find new opportunities for expansion.”

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by Scott Thompson
Scott is Senior Editor at IBS Intelligence. You can follow him on Twitter and contact him at: Scott.Thompson@ibsintelligence.com
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