Consumers globally made 250 billion noncash payments in 2007, up 8.6% from the previous year, according to the World Payments Report 2009.

Though noncash payments include direct debits, credit transfers and checks, the "use of cards continues to be the strongest driver of volumes," the report said last week. Global debit and credit card transactions increased by 14.5% in 2007, down from growth of about 16% in 2006.

"Payments volumes held up in 2007, but only 2008 data will confirm how well the numbers held up in the face of the financial crisis," the report said. "Early indications suggest U.S. and European card usage was fairly strong in 2008," though data and forecasts signal weakness in remittances and exports.

The report is from the French consulting and information technology firm Capgemini, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC and the European Financial Management and Marketing Association, a trade group for banks and insurance companies.

The report's authors interviewed 16 major banking players and 20 of their corporate clients. In the United States, the report said, cash in circulation declined 7.4% in 2007. In Europe cash use increased 7.8%, which compares with an annual growth rate of 11% from 2002 to 2007. The number of cards grew 28.2% in 2007 in Latin America and 21.3% in Central Europe, the Middle East and Africa.