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Data for today’s episode is provided by Mercator Advisory Group’s Report: Commercial Credit Cards: International Markets Review and Forecast, 2020-2025; COVID Bounce Back Not Expected Until 2023
Predictions for the International Commercial Credit Card Market:
- Prior to the pandemic, Asia Pacific had the fastest growing commercial card spend trajectory, with value second only to North America.
- Mercator estimates that commercial credit card spend across the Asia-Pacific region was $110.9 billion in 2020, a 40% decline from the prior year.
- Using overall credit cards as a guidepost there was a roughly 11% decline in credit card spending across the region in 2020.
- As with all global regions, the steep decline in business travel spend and related business activities has had the greatest impact on card spend in 2020.
- Mercator expects about a 20% uptick in 2021, and by 2023 regional business travel spend will return to 2019 levels.
- Mercator estimates some virtual card growth in 2020 and a continuing CAGR of 36.1% through 2025.
In global markets outside of North America, spending growth remains underpinned by corporate cards, used mostly for travel and entertainment (T&E), as well as virtual cards used to settle with travel management companies. The consequent spending volume in corporate cards is closely tied to travel budgets and general corporate adoption. The pandemic had a deleterious effect on global business travel spend. A new research report from Mercator Advisory Group, Commercial Credit Cards: International Markets Review and Forecast, 2020-2025; COVID Bounce Back Not Expected Until 2023, reviews the current situation and outlook as the industry recovers from the effects of COVID-19 and business lockdowns.
Given the remedies selected by most government entities to combat viral spread, varying levels of GDP declines were felt across regions in 2020, with economic recovery expected to have a similar level of variability during 2021-22. As such there was an expected massive drop off in spending on corporate cards. Commercial credit card spend for mid-large market companies outside of North America was 42% lower than in 2019. Going forward, recovery levels and expected behavioral changes in business travel are the most pressing issue. A continued shift to digital payments and virtual cards will help improve spending levels through 2022 and partially offset the travel slowdowns. In this report we will discuss the overall pandemic impact on economic growth, then address how that plays out both short and longer term on spending in each indicated region.
“The pandemic underscored the relative dependency of the commercial card industry in most regions on business travel versus the broader B2B use cases that have been pursued in North America, and to some extent, Western Europe,” commented Steve Murphy, Director of the Commercial and Enterprise Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group, the author of this report. “Once economies emerge again, which is already underway, travel will return at some level, but most issuers will be redoubling efforts to expand commercial card spend into B2B uses.”