Tuesday , December 7, 2021

Big Banks See Credit Card Purchases Plunge by More Than 20% in the Second Quarter

Three of the nation’s largest banks reported Tuesday that their credit card purchase volumes fell by more than 20% in the second quarter as the Covid-19 pandemic slammed the brakes on the economy, though things were better on the debit card side.

New York City-based JPMorgan Chase & Co., the biggest U.S. credit card issuer, posted credit card sales volume of $148.5 billion, down 23% from $192.5 billion in 2019’s second quarter.

Including debit cards, JPMorgan Chase recorded card-based purchase volume of $237.6 billion, off 16% from $281.5 billion a year earlier. 

Confirming what merchants have reported consistently over the past several months, JPMorgan Chase’s card-present retail spending volumes on credit and debit cards plunged beginning in March, ultimately falling by more than 70% year-over-year and recovering to a 50% fall-off in June. But card-not-present credit/debit volumes jumped by more than 50% by April and have remained in that range since then.

“Debit and credit card sales volume, while overall still down, has consistently trended upward since the trough in the second week of April to down just 4% year-on-year in the last two weeks of June,” chief financial officer Jennifer A. Piepszak said during a conference call to review financial results with analysts.

JPMorgan’s merchant-acquiring operation, a leading e-commerce processor, posted $371.9 billion in volume in the second quarter, barely up from $371.6 billion in the prior-year period and off 1% from the first quarter.

Meanwhile, Chase’s cross-town rival Citigroup Inc. said purchases on its North America-issued general-purpose credit cards fell 21% year-over-year in the second quarter to $74 billion. Purchases on Citi’s big portfolio of retail cards dropped 25% to $17 billion.

And Wells Fargo & Co. said consumer credit card point-of-sale purchase volume dropped 22% from a year earlier $15.8 billion and was off 13% from the first quarter. POS volume on Wells debit cards, at $93.1 billion, was flat compared with a year earlier even though transactions slipped 13% to 2.03 billion.

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