The Top Four Trends Impacting Debit Card Issuers 

Debit remains a core part of the expanding payments landscape, even as new forms of payment emerge. The average consumer now uses their debit card 39 percent more often than they did in 2010, according to the 2017 Debit Issuer Study, commissioned by PULSE and conducted by Oliver Wyman. 

Following are the four key trends impacting U.S. debit issuers identified by the study:

TREND 1: Continuing strong debit transaction growth

The total number of debit transactions continued to increase in 2016, rising an average 7 percent for the issuers surveyed. The average active debit cardholder now makes more than 23 transactions per month using their debit card, a record high since we began tracking U.S. debit issuer metrics in 2005. 

Strategic Considerations for Issuers:

  • What can you do to get more cards into new account holders’ hands?
  • How can you encourage account holders to activate and use their cards? 

TREND 2: Faster-than-expected conversion to chip cards

Since the fraud liability shift for most debit transactions took effect in October 2015, an estimated 80 percent of U.S. debit cards have been converted to chip cards. "Chip-on-chip” transactions – those conducted with chip-enabled cards at chip-enabled terminals – amounted to 30 percent of all debit transactions, a more than six-fold increase over the previous year. 

Strategic Considerations for Issuers:

  • How can you help cardholders understand what to expect in different merchant environments?
  • Should you educate them about when different types of merchants are expected to begin accepting chip cards? 

TREND 3: Decline in reported fraud loss rates

Increased issuance of chip debit cards has coincided with reduced fraud losses for financial institutions. Fraud loss rates fell by 28 percent in 2016. Fraud continues to challenge issuers, however. Debit fraud losses for U.S. financial institutions in 2016 totaled an estimated $900 million. Losses on debit transactions without a PIN (including signature, no-CVM* and e-commerce transactions) remained about three times higher than on those with a PIN. 

Strategic Considerations for Issuers:

  • How can you boost your fraud-mitigation efforts without impacting the cardholder experience?        
  • Are you taking advantage of all the tools available to you? 

TREND 4: Growth in mobile wallet participation … but limited usage

Enrollment of debit cards into mobile wallets increased 80 percent in 2016. Three out of four issuers now support debit cards being loaded into at least one mobile wallet. Despite this momentum, usage of debit cards in mobile wallets remains low. Combined, Android Pay™, Apple Pay® and Samsung Pay® account for only about 0.26 percent of all debit transactions in January 2017, compared to 0.2 percent a year earlier. 

Strategic Considerations for Issuers:

  • Should you encourage account holders to load their debit cards into mobile wallets?
  • Would education about the wallets’ security features be beneficial?


About the Study

The 2017 Debit Issuer Study is the 12th installment in the study series and was conducted by Oliver Wyman, an independent management consulting firm. Fifty financial institutions – including large banks, credit unions and community banks – participated in the study. Collectively, the participants issue approximately 134 million debit cards, representing 35 percent of the U.S. debit market. The sample is representative of the U.S. debit market in terms of institution type, geography and debit network participation. For additional information about the study, go to