An American Export: Credit Cards

Posted by Bull Bear Trader | 8/11/2008 03:08:00 PM | , , | 0 comments »

As reported at the International Herald Tribune, the use of credit cards is increasing overseas. Thirty years ago Turkey had fewer than 10,000 credit cards, yet today it has more than 38 million, resulting in outstanding card debt of nearly $18 billion. Across Asia, Latin America, and Central Europe the number of card transactions is up 20 to 30 percent a year, more than twice the growth in the United States.

The increased use of cards has been somewhat of a double edged sword. Increased transactions have spurred an increase in consumer spending, but of course, bills eventually come due. Countries such as South Korea have seen defaults surge, and other rapidly growing credit markets, such as Turkey and China, also have analysts worried. But for now the global demand for cards is still increasing, and subsequently helping Visa and MasterCard report record revenues, not to mention offering their shareholders some positive returns.