Cards will be responsible for 30% of U.S. consumer payments in 2000, up from 25% in 1997, according to Mentis Corp.

Debit cards will fuel this growth. Mentis said debit transactions increased 460% from 1993 to 1997, reaching 3.2 billion payments.

Credit card transactions will increase by about 15% annually, versus 46% for debit, according to Mentis. It sees smart cards responsible for "a very small portion of total card payments" for the next five years, said Ken Kerr, research manager.

He said debit purchases are not cannibalizing credit. All but 6% of them are replacing check and cash purchases.

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