Fraud losses incurred by banks and merchants on all credit, debit and prepaid general purpose and private label payment cards issued worldwide reached $21.84 billion last year when global card volume (purchases of goods and services combined with cash advances and withdrawals) totaled $31.310 trillion. This means that for every $100 in volume, 6.97 cents was fraudulent, up from 6.21 cents per $100 in 2014.
Fraud, which grew by 20.6%, outpaced volume, which grew by 7.3%, according to “The Nilson Report,” the top trade newsletter covering the card and mobile payment industries.
The U.S. accounted for 38.7%, or $8.45 billion, of gross card fraud losses worldwide, while generating only 22.9% of total global purchase and cash volume. U.S. fraud reached 11.76 cents per $100 last year.
Fraud losses occur from counterfeit cards at the point of sale and automated teller machines (ATMs), card-not-present (CNP) transactions (made online or via mail, telephone, a social network or mobile app), fraudulent applications, lost and stolen cards and other smaller categories.
Losses to card issuers reached $15.72 billion or 72% of gross fraud losses worldwide. Merchants and acquirers lost the remaining $6.12 billion or 28% of the total.
Issuers absorbed the majority of fraud losses last year. Issuer losses occur mainly from counterfeit credit and debit cards used at the point of sale and ATMs.
“The industry’s best defense against counterfeit fraud are EMV cards and the terminals needed to read their chips,” said David Robertson, publisher of “The Nilson Report.” “EMV has been steadily penetrating dozens of countries, but in the U.S. where issuers poured EMV cards into the market, merchants lagged in deploying terminals.” By year-end 2015, EMV-compliant cards handled nearly 36% of Visa, Mastercard, UnionPay, Discover/Diners, JCB and American Express card transactions worldwide. In the U.S., compliant transactions accounted for less than 2% of the total.
Fraud losses to merchants and their acquirers occurred overwhelmingly from CNP transactions, and the problem is worsening. Losses to CNP fraud exceeded $5.65 billion last year, with growth in nearly every country. In the U.S., CNP already accounts for more than 50% of total fraud losses.
By 2020, card fraud worldwide is expected to total $31.67 billion. Even though fraud has worsened every year this decade, it is still lower than the peak years of the 1970s when measured as basis points of total volume.