Consumer confidence, the World Cup and lower
interest rates have boosted the number of credit card accounts
opened in South Africa this year by 30 percent, according to
Standard Bank.

Credit card fraud has also reduced by 30
percent in the first quarter as the banking sector in South Africa
embraced smart card technologies, and the use of chip and PIN
became widespread.

“Our research indicates that consumer
confidence, as reflected through credit card activity, is growing
steadily,” said Leila Fourie, director of the Standard Bank Card

“Standard Bank has experienced positive
year-on-year growth in credit card spend since the first quarter of
2010. Lower interest rates mean a moderate improvement in the
growth of credit card sales is expected to continue.”

Through hosting the World Cup, Standard Bank
has seen an increase in the sales of electronic goods,
telecommunication equipment, sporting goods as well as gifts.

“Visible benefits associated with the World
Cup were increased sales, with certain retail sectors reaping much
of the benefits,” said Forie.

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“There has been positive point-of-sale growth
in credit card transactions since the middle of the first quarter,
with the growth rates exceeding the consumer price index from May.
This trend is expected to continue throughout the World Cup as
South Africans make event-related purchases.”

According to Reserve Bank statistics, Standard
Bank is the leading issuer of cards in South Africa, holding more
than 33 percent of the market in loans and advances (excluding
Diners Club), with Absa running at nearly 26.5 percent, FNB at just
below 20 percent and Nedbank at nearly 13.1 percent.

“Although we are cautiously optimistic about
credit card spending activity, we must bear in mind factors such as
unemployment, debt review and continued volatility in oil prices,”
added Fourie.