An In-Depth Look at the 10 Largest Credit Card Processing Companies Worldwide

If you have ever paid for something with a credit or debit card, whether online or at a store, your payment information passed through a credit card processing company. These behind-the-scenes companies handle immense volumes of non-cash payments made daily around the world – over 5 billion transactions worth more than $10 trillion in just the past year!

The companies authorizing these electronic card payments collectively form a massive global processing industry projected to grow steadily at a nearly 10% annual clip over the next 5 years according to leading financial research firm CFRA. Consumers continuing shift away from paper money and businesses adopting modern payment technologies provides long runway.

Remarkably, over 80% of worldwide credit and debit card payment volume flows through just 10 major players. These credit card processing powerhouses have built cutting edge networks, struck key partnerships, and led consolidation to dominate the space.

Let‘s analyze these credit card processing leaders deeply understanding their past, present status, and future outlook to comprehend their influential roles bridging merchants, banks, and consumers via enabling electronic payments.

Overview of the 10 Largest Credit Card Processors Worldwide

The table below provides a convenient overview of the 10 largest credit card processing companies and acquirers worldwide based on total purchase volume processed over the past year.

CompanyPurchase Volume
J.P. Morgan$890 billion
American Express$763 billion
Visa$618 billion
FIS$550 billion
Fiserv$425 billion
Global Payments$284 billion
Worldpay$175 billion
Discover$166 billion
Elavon$125 billion
First Data$122 billion

Below we analyze each credit card industry titan highlighting key facts, metrics, services, clients, developments, and more to understand how they built processing leadership managing trillions of electronic card transactions annually.

J.P. Morgan Chase – #1 Credit Card Processor

J.P. Morgan sits atop the credit card processing universe handling close to $1 trillion dollars in purchase volume last year. The firm dates back over 200 years originally focused on corporate banking and has aggressively built up its leadership in consumer credit services and payments processing over recent decades through technology innovations and strategic buys.

Metrics Snapshot

  • Purchase Volume: $890 Billion
  • Cards in Force: Over 80 million
  • Credit Card Network: Visa
  • Key Client Base: consumers, small businesses
  • Revenue Mix: 41% consumer banking, 24% credit card network
  • Recent News: partnered with Fiserv to allow card use over Bill Pay network

J.P. Morgan Chase has invested heavily in credit card rewards programs and developing digital wallet Chase Pay to maintain immense card issuance while also bolstering payment capabilities. It aims to leverage vast account holder and transaction data to deliver personalized financial products amid fierce competition.

Regulators assess J.P. Morgan‘s consumer services vigilantly given systemic importance concerns thanks to its credit card footprint. The firm faces rising delinquencies potentially tied to recession risks in coming quarters that bear monitoring to avoid losses eroding processing strength.

American Express – World‘s Largest Card Issuer

With over 120 million cards in circulation globally and the highest customer spending compared to competitors, American Express stands as the largest card issuer worldwide. It originally grew dominant catering to affluent travelers and businesses before expanding into the mass market.

Metrics Snapshot

  • Cards in Force: 120 million+
  • Avg. Spending Per Card: $18,000
  • Merchant Network: 35+ million locations
  • Revenue Mix: 33% card fees, 29% processing
  • Recent News: Launched own high-yield savings account product

Unlike Visa or Mastercard, AmEx operates a "closed loop" payments network handling everything from issuing to processing. While AmEx lags peers in transaction volume as it avoids small-ticket debit purchases, it holds an outsized share of total dollars spent via immense cardholder balances it can generate float income on.

AmEx actively integrates valuable perks like insurance, upgrades, and experiences into its premium cards leveraging its merchant network breadth. New checking account and Buy Now Pay Later offerings aim to disrupt both ends of payments while global expansion remains priority to tap into electronic commerce explosion.

Visa – Unparalleled Payment Network Scale

In over 170 countries globally where cards are accepted you will see the iconic Visa logo plastered everywhere. Visa operates the single largest retail electronic payments network, handling $10 trillion in total volume annually on 3.6 billion cards its issuers put in consumers‘ wallets.

Metrics Snapshot

  • Cards in Force: 3.6 Billion+
  • Purchase Volume: $618 Billion
  • Merchant Acceptance: 70 Million+
  • Revenue Mix: 47% transaction processing
  • Recent News: Teaming with Goldman Sachs to issue new credit cards

Early bets developing signature debit cards and pioneering online checkout plugins fueled Visa‘s ubiquity before it cemented scale over the past 20 years through waves of partnerships and mergers eventually also absorbing Europay and Mastercard affiliates.

Now Visa turns focus towards embedding payments in vehicles, wearables, and Internet-of-Things devices by enabling secure tokenized transactions through Visa Cloud Token Framework adopted across its vast issuer and merchant network.

With near global reach and continued opportunity still in emerging markets like Africa where cash remains dominant, Visa looks poised to add another billion cards and $2 trillion in volume over the next decade.

FIS – Processing Powerhouse

While lacking the brand fame of card networks like Visa or AmEx, Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) has rapidly emerged as a processing colossus over the past decade through ramping up technology and acquiring top players across payments verticals.

Metrics Snapshot

  • Purchase Volume: $550 Billion
  • Revenue: $12.7 Billion
  • Merchants Served: 3+ Million
  • Revenue Mix: 53% banking/payments
  • Recent News – Partnered with LATAM Airlines for travel payment platform

Originally a financial software company, FIS now provides a full spectrum of processing capabilities ranging from card issuing to point-of-sale systems to contact center payments platforms after consolidating leaders including Metavante, Worldpay, eFunds, and NYCE.

FIS processing muscle spans 125 countries and all transaction environments handling credit, debit, prepaid, commercial, private label, and gift payments for a diverse clientele of top global banks, merchants, and businesses.

Ongoing efforts optimizing cross-selling opportunities across its client ecosystem and new payment functionality like tap-to-pay and tokenization keeps FIS strategically positioned as an payments power player for years ahead.

Fiserv – Serving Small Business Banking & Payments

Fiserv has focused on being the one-stop shop for small to mid-sized banks and credit unions‘ technology and payments enablement needs since its 1984 founding and has leveraged that extensive community financial institution penetration into Fortune 500 relationships.

Metrics Snapshot

  • Purchase Volume: $425 Billion
  • Revenue: $15.5 Billion
  • Bank Core Clients: Thousands
  • SMB Merchant Clients: 300K+
  • Revenue Mix: 53% merchant acquiring
  • Recent News: Launched GetCreditSavvy digital financial education platform

Top financial institution clients relying on Fiserv core account processing solutions and payment services span mega banks like Capital One and HSBC to super community banks like BofI Federal Bank to new digital disruptor offerings from fast-growing outfits like MoneyLion.

While Fiserv trails top rivals in overall payment volume it leads in partnering with North American small businesses driving over $130 billion in mobile and ecommerce transaction value thanks partly to its integrated Clover point-of-sale solutions.

As digital banking and payments only continue expanding, Fiserv will play a central role ensuring community clients keep pace on convenience while Stillen also cross-sells its wider capabilities to embed financial experiences seamlessly everywhere for consumers and businesses.

Global Payments – Strong Growth Trajectory

Specializing first in electronic check verification then expanding into global integrated payment software and hardware systems has underpinned Global Payment‘s rapid rise up the processing ranks as it encroaches leading acquirers.

Metrics Snapshot

  • Purchase volume: $284 billion
  • Revenue: $8.3 billion
  • Active Merchants: 1+ million
  • Revenue Mix: 63% technology enabling
  • Recent News: Named a World‘s Most Ethical Company

Global Payments coordinates vital payments infrastructure across 120 currencies and 150 countries with an advanced gateway facilitating omnichannel commerce regardless of card, online, or mobile acceptance environment.

It counts among clients industry big box retailers like Under Armour and luxury hotel chains like Four Seasons along with small mom and pop professional service shops who need seamless payment collection and data tools.

Sustained 20% annual growth fueled by strategic geographic reach, software innovation wins like partnering with AWS for cloud hosting, and client retention rates near 98% signals no slowdown in sight propelling Global Payments forward among future processing winners.

Worldpay – Global Commerce Visionary

Since starting out a half-century ago pioneering early ATM networks then current mainstay point-of-sale terminals before making an prescient $1 billion play acquiring online payments trailblazer in 2007, Worldpay continues advancing the next era of boundary pushing commerce infrastructure.

Metrics Snapshot

  • Purchase volume – $175 Billion
  • Revenue: $4 Billion
  • Merchants served – 300,000+
  • Revenue mix – 69% merchant acquiring
  • Recent News – Named leader in Real-Time Payments Report

Now the crown jewel merchant acquirer business in leading processor FIS‘s arsenal accounting for nearly a third of its volumes, Worldpay actively works to streamline global commerce working with the top 20 world banks to enable localized card, mobile and alternative payments with leading international brands like Emirates, Samsung, and Shell.

With embedded payment capabilities to support everything from B2B invoice transactions to bank transfers to QR receipt codes in over 120 currencies across 126 countries, forward-thinking Worldpay eliminates complexity enabling enterprise through peer marketplace clients to transact fluidly anywhere opportunity arises.

Discover – Innovator Expanding Scale

Although fifth largest in US card network purchase volume, Discover continues punching far above its weight driving advances benefitting consumers and businesses while disrupting incumbents through smart credit access and payments automation.

Metrics Snapshot

  • Purchase Volume – $166 Billion
  • Cards in Force – 70 million
  • Direct Banking Assets – $100+ Billion
  • Merchants Accepted – 16 million +
  • Revenue Mix – 62% credit card interest and fees

Pioneering no-fee cash back rewards cards and introducing universal Apple Pay/Google Pay contactless adoption at 7+ million merchant network locations keeps Discover America‘s most trusted credit card brand for 17 straight years while Direct Banking buildout establishes full-service franchise.

Innovations likeFreeze It credit protection against fraud and AutoPay automatic bill payment along with global acceptance partnerships poise increasing customer-centric Discover to gain share amid Industry upheaval.

Elavon – Multi-National Acquirer

Formed from mergers across established European acquirers before expanding into the Americas and now APAC via Australia‘s #1 payment processor, Elavon brings localized knowledge and regional scale advantages becoming a top 10 heavyweight processing over $300 billion annually.

Metrics Snapshot

  • Purchase volume – $125 Billion
  • Revenue – $1.6Billion
  • Countries Served – 36+
  • Merchants Served- 1 million+
  • Revenue Mix – 43% North America, 30% Europe

Elavon understands complexity navigating the intricacies of payments from Shenzhen to Switzerland overseeing 1.3 billion transactions across 900K merchants thanks to bespoke solutions catering from massive enterprises like Caesars Entertainment to micro-retail clients.

Flexible offerings like end-to-end encryption security to cross-border commerce settlement converting 126 currencies provides trust for clients and global partner bank networks spanning regions to rely on Elavon skirting volatility amid regulatory shifts.

First Data – Reliable Results

Currently helping nearly 6 million small businesses and leading global enterprises across 130 countries efficiently get paid via seamlessly powering $1.5 trillion in card transactions annually, First Data continues witnessing high client loyalty thanks to its consistent innovation and insights over 5 decades acquiring.

Metrics Snapshot

  • Purchase volume – $122 billion
  • Revenue – $11.4 billion
  • SMB Clients Served – Nearly 6 million
  • Countries Supported – 130+
  • Revenue Mix – 75% transaction processing

Whether its introducing smartphone acceptance dongles before Square existed, continuing to enhance edge computing data tools like FirstDataTM X Sense predicting future growth for its 1,700 bank and credit union partners, or maintaining industry gold standard 98% efficiency on transaction authorization rates, First Data delivers proven capabilities enabling client prosperity.

Despite 2020 private equity acquisition by Fiserv, First Data merchant acquiring capabilities remain independent maintaining leadership servicing top global brands including Ticketmaster, Priceline and Home Depot thanks to its dedicated people driving 24/7 reliable results clients trust.

Key Takeaways About Leading Credit Card Processors

As discussed in analyzing each of the 10 largest credit and debit card processing companies worldwide collectively influencing trillions of electronic payments annually, some key takeaways emerge:

  • Industry consolidation powering growth – M&A and partnerships reinforced strengths for many processing leaders

  • Investments in technology and capabilities continues – Expanding into higher growth areas like online commerce, mobile wallets, cross-border, Buy Now Pay Later payments pushes more volume

  • Scale and reach aids large incumbent player network effects – Global connections provide localized experience helping worldwide merchants thrive with established processors

  • Innovators rising targeting niche opportunities – New entrants solve focused pain points around simplicity and flexibility making inroads

  • Financial health vigilance warranted – Economic variability and security threats breed risks even for sophisticated payments giants

This overview of the payments landscapecompetitive dynamics through the lens of companies sitting atop the processing and acquiring value chain provides perspective into the influencers behind most electronic transactions.

As consumers transact increasingly via digital channels versus cash while merchants adopt integrated financial tools enabling seamless payer experiences worldwide, these leading processors ensure the vital plumbing facilitating payments flows smoothly everywhere commerce unfolds thanks to their continual investments and execution.

How Small Businesses Can Select the Best Credit Card Processor

While this guide focused on industry titans steering global payment infrastructure, the processing relationship paradigm flips with smaller main street business owners dealing with sales under $10 million who need to vet and select providers catering to their unique needs.

Here are quick considerations when evaluating credit card processors as a small business to ensure maximizing convenience without escalating expenses:

  • Transaction pricing/rate structure – Interchange fees, disclosure transparency, monthly minimums play a big role calculating total costs so compare competing quotes closely

  • Integrations – Understand tools for capturing payments across platforms like online storefronts, invoices, mobile POS, etc.

  • Data security – Review protections like tokenization, encryption, fraud filters, and PCI compliance relieving burden

  • Client support – Check reviews on responsiveness and resolution quality by accounts similar to your business size and industry

  • Contracts/Cancellations – Leave flexibility to switch by avoiding steep volume commitments or termination fees locking you in

While mega processors like Chase Paymentech and Elavon leverage economies of scale that can trickle down savings for smaller clients, purpose-built shops like Square, Stripe, and PayPal simplify payments integration plus understanding exactly what you owe.

The most affordable credit card processing aligning with a small business‘s sales patterns and operational needs can save hundreds per year over mismatched providers. With sound evaluation of best fit options facilitated by this industry perspective, small retailers can prosper thanks to payments optimized to enable their vision rather than hinder it.

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