While Discover has a much smaller debit-card network than Visa and MasterCard do, the upstart gained ground in 2012, as Discover benefited from new routing rules.

But last year, after Visa launched a number of strategies aimed at regaining market share, Discover’s volume flat-lined.

U.S. debit volume growth on Discover’s Pulse network was 0% in 2013, while MasterCard saw a 6% increase, and Visa enjoyed a 9% jump, according to a presentation Discover showed to analysts today.

Discover executives said they’re trying a number of strategies to compete with the big guys, including allowing PIN-less transactions on purchases under $50.

They acknowledged that 2013 was a challenging year but also sought to put a positive gloss on the debit network’s struggles. “I view that as a lot more upside,” Discover CEO David Nelms said.

A longer version of this story appears on American Banker.

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