Approximately 1.2 million cards have been issued to customers in the Maldives since the inception of card-based transactions 23 years ago, the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) has reported.

The central bank’s ‘Payments Bulletin’ publication revealed that 48 percent of the debit cards issued were Visa, followed by MasterCard at 24 percent, and American Express (AMEX) at 22 percent.

Debit cards were first introduced in the Maldives in 2000. Credit cards, first issued in 2004, are dominated by Visa, accounting for 64 percent of the total, with AMEX representing 28 percent.

In the prepaid cards segment, MasterCard holds a near-total monopoly, with 99 percent of cards issued.

Card transactions have seen a steady year-on-year increase, with 46 million transactions worth an estimated MVR 18 billion made last year alone. Of this total, MVR 17 billion was transacted through debit cards, with the remaining MVR 1 billion coming from credit cards. This represents a significant increase from 2022, which saw 39 million transactions worth MVR 16 billion.

The ‘Payments Bulletin’ is an annual publication providing a comprehensive overview of the payments landscape in the Maldives. It covers market players, payment infrastructure, various payment instruments, and usage trends. The inaugural edition of the report covers the period from 2019 to 2022.

The MMA, established in 1981 under the Maldives Monetary Authority Act of 1981, serves as the central bank and primary regulator of the financial sector in the Maldives. The regulator is led by Governor Ali Hashim, who was appointed by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in September 2019.