Visa International said its point of sale volume in the Asia-Pacific region exceeded $100 million last year for the first time.
Overall transaction volume was up 19% in 1997, to $188 billion. Card purchases totaled $137 billion, up 33%. The remaining $51 billion was commercial payment activity in China, which fell 7%.
Visa cards in the region rose 13%, to 113 million, and transactions increased 39%, to 1.1 billion.
Asia-Pacific president Dennis Goggin said cardholders are increasingly choosing Visa over cash. The growth also reflects "successes in gaining Visa acceptance in nontraditional merchant segments such as supermarkets, health care, telecommunications, and petrol stations," he said, "and in markets like Japan where acceptance has traditionally been lower than elsewhere."