Credit card association MasterCard (search) said on Monday purchases using its credit and debit cards rose 11.7 percent in the second quarter, propelled by an improving global economy and sunnier consumer confidence.

Cardholders worldwide used MasterCard-branded cards for nearly 4.1 billion transactions, generating gross dollar volume of $349 billion in the second quarter — an increase of 9.2 percent over the same period in 2003.

Purchase volume rose 11.7 percent to $257.1 billion for the second quarter of 2004.

"We've seen stronger purchase activity across our global network as more confident consumers increased spending," Robert Selander, MasterCard's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement on Monday.

MasterCard's Asia Pacific region saw growth in gross dollar volume for the first time in 18 months, reflecting what the credit card association sees as "renewed consumer confidence in the region."

Asia and Pacific saw a 2.5 percent in gross dollar volume, while South Asia, Middle East and East Africa gross dollar volume rose 27 percent, according to MasterCard.

"You are seeing growth everywhere across the world. That is part of what makes this expansion different from the one in the early 1990s when Japan's economy was mired in a recession," said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial (search).

Last month, American Express (AXP) reported that its second-quarter profits rose 15 percent thanks to an increase in use of credit cards and charges cards by consumers and businesses.