Seventh Annual Open Loop Prepaid Market Assessment

Boston, MA -- The Open-Loop prepaid card market is bigger than anyone thought and still growing despite the recession that continues to grip the country. In its Seventh Annual Open-Loop Benchmark Report, Mercator Advisory Group has revised its market size numbers upward, particularly in its cash access segments, to reflect newly available data and increased reporting by the industry. In addition this year's report has found that several segments it tracks have continued to grow in the face of a poor economy.

"Mercator Advisory Group has once again found that prepaid is the best payments market to be in during a recession," Tim Sloane, Director of Mercator Advisory Group's Prepaid Advisory Service and author of the report comments. "Growth across most segments of the market continues and is likely to continue whichever way the economy goes."

This year's report does have a few other surprises in store. For example, Mercator has eliminated several categories from its tracking because they stopped growing years ago and are being absorbed by other segments as consumers and businesses adjust the way they make payments.

Additionally, as Mercator expected, the report shows how open-loop card volume is over-taking closed-loop card volume in some segments.

"As Mercator expected would happen, open-loop cards are becoming the preferred payment option in some segments, though at a faster rate than we initially thought," Sloane says. The Seventh Annual Open-Loop Prepaid Market Assessment is the first of our annual trilogy of closely followed prepaid benchmark reports (Open-Loop, Closed-Loop, and Prepaid Market Forecast) that provides a thorough analysis and documentation of the growth and development of the Prepaid Industry. It benchmarks the load, growth, and market dynamics for all Open-Loop Prepaid Solutions. This includes a review of the dollars loaded on Open-Loop Prepaid products in 18 different market segments.

Highlights of the Report Include:

The total load for all 26 prepaid segments in 2009 (Open & Closed) was $330.03 billion, a $60.74 billion increase over the $269.29 billion loaded in 2008 - an increase of 23 percent.

Open-Loop products had $124.64 billion loaded in 2009, an increase of 61 percent.

Based on new information reported this year, Mercator has found the size of the General Purpose Reloadable Market to be bigger than it previously reported. We have adjusted our forecasts and historical data to reflect this new information.

Open-Loop cards continue to take market share from Closed-Loop cards.  For example, in the consumer incentives segment, open-loop card load grew at 37 percent, while closed-loop card load declined 8 percent.

Some of the fastest growing sectors were government benefits sectors driven by changing demographics and the poor economy. The dollars loaded in the Social Security Segment grew by 197 percent and the dollars loaded onto cards for state unemployment plans grew by 292 percent, which reflects job losses and persistent unemployment.

One of 12 exhibits in this report:

There are 27 pages and 12 exhibits in this report. Members of Mercator Advisory Group have access to this report as well as the upcoming research for the year ahead, presentations, analyst access and other membership benefits. Please visit us online at www.mercatoradvisorygroup.com. 

For more information and media inquiries, please call Mercator Advisory Group's main line: (781) 419-1700 or send E-mail to 
info@mercatoradvisorygroup.com.

About Mercator Advisory Group:
Mercator Advisory Group is the leading, independent research and advisory services firm exclusively focused on the payments and banking industries. We deliver pragmatic and timely research and advice designed to help our clients uncover the most lucrative opportunities to maximize revenue growth and contain costs. Our clients range from the world's largest payment issuers, acquirers, processors, merchants and associations to leading technology providers and investors.