Europay International, the European bankcollective closely associated with MasterCard International, said its members issued a record 35 million new cards last year, bringing the total to 213 million.

As cards bearing the Eurocard-MasterCard, Maestro, Eurocheque, and Cirrus brand names were increasing 20%, transactions rose by 17%, to 7.9 billion, and transaction volume by 14%, to 708 billion euro, or $758 billion.

The data indicate that "European banks and their customers continue to prefer Europay products and services," said Europay director and chief executive officer Louis-Noel Joly. "We have yet again sustained our leadership of the European market with a 60% share of all cards, and we remain unsurpassed in the debit card sector, with a market share of over 80%."

Maestro, Eurocheque, and Cirrus debit transactions were 2.5 times those on credit cards, and Maestro point of sale transactions alone rose by 34%, Europay said.

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