New Digital Commerce Alliance Annual Study Data Shows Strong Card-linking Growth During Pandemic

Card-linking tops list of preferred marketing channels for first time since study’s inception

SAN FRANCISCO--()--The Digital Commerce Alliance (DCA) today released 2021 data revealing significant industry trends, including those related to card-linking, mobile wallets, and financial data management. Among the global trade association’s findings in its annual study: Card-linking programs top the list of digital marketing tools preferred by respondents, surpassing social media marketing for the first year since the study’s inception in 2016.

“The pandemic has led to merchants reinventing how they interact with consumers. Mobile wallets, card-linked offers and innovative uses of financial data have become the preferred tools for engaging in commerce,” said Silvio Tavares, Chairman and CEO of the non-profit, global trade association, Digital Commerce Alliance (DCA) (formerly known as the CardLinx Association). “Card-linking is mainstream and continues to grow as marketing leaders count on card-linking now more than ever to engage consumers and drive growth.”

Based on input from merchant, banking, payments, data, fintech, and card-linking organizations, the Digital Commerce Alliance’s 2021 findings include:

  • Thirty-five percent of study participants indicated their card-linking programs grew by more than 100% in the past year.
  • E-commerce and grocery topped restaurants as best-fitting card-linking merchant categories for the first time, as COVID-19 kept consumers home.
  • Support is gaining for privacy rules—including those in place in California and the EU—that put data ownership and control in the hands of consumers.
  • Seventy-nine percent of respondents reported that they personally increased their use of mobile wallets in the past year, and more than 65% reported they took advantage of their mobile wallets’ discounts and offers.

The study is published annually as part of the Digital Commerce Alliance’s charter to advance data-driven commerce by enabling innovative, measurable, and mutually beneficial consumer experiences through standards, collaboration, and technologies. This is the 6th year of publication. Participants include members from small to mid-sized organizations (59%) to large enterprises (41%) as varied as Microsoft, Samsung, Rakuten, Mastercard, Discover, UBS, FIS, Hilton, and Harvey Nichols, from the strongest and fastest-growing economies in the world, including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, the UK, and the US.

Download: 2021 Digital Commerce Annual Industry Study

The Digital Commerce Alliance (DCA) also announced that registration for two virtual industry forums to be held fourth quarter is open, giving members opportunities to engage with digital commerce leaders, and network with peers:

Turning Financial Data Regulation Into Competitive Advantage
Tues., Oct. 5, 2021 | Via Zoom

Commerce With a Conscience
Tues, Nov. 9, 2021 | Via Zoom

About the Digital Commerce Alliance (DCA)

The Digital Commerce Alliance (DCA) was created by the CardLinx Association (now the CardLinx Forum), the premier, multi-industry trade association founded in 2014 with the mission to promote online-to-offline (O2O) commerce and card-linking worldwide. To learn more or to become a member of DCA or its affiliate divisions, visit, or CardLinx Forum, Mobile Wallet Forum and Financial Data Forum.


Nancy Joyce

Release Summary

Card-linking tops list of preferred marketing channels for first time since the inception of the Digital Commerce Alliance study in 2016.


Nancy Joyce