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12th Annual U.S. Prepaid Cards Market Forecasts, 2015–2018

Prepaid loads continue to grow as individual segments struggle

Research from Mercator Advisory Group shows which segments of the prepaid cards market will grow and which will shrink through 2018

This research report from Mercator Advisory Group, provides an analysis of the growth and development of the prepaid cards industry through 2018. The report, 12th Annual U.S. Prepaid Cards Market Forecasts, 2015–2018, overviews load, growth, and market dynamics in the United States across all prepaid segments.

Mercator Advisory Group’s forecast report identifies key segments that will continue to witness a decline over the next few years as well as those that should see growth. The economy, politics, and consumer behavior will all influence which segments grow and which decline.

This report reviews and forecasts load dollar volume and card volume for both open-loop and closed-loop segments. This forecast highlights the segments approaching market saturation as well as those that will continue to experience double-digit annual growth.

"Events in 2016 will likely make it a watershed year for the prepaid industry, and the future of many segments will hinge on regulations. Prepaid providers should be evaluating their businesses and looking for ways to diversify," Ben Jackson, Director of Mercator Advisory Group's Prepaid Advisory Service, and author of the report, comments.

Highlights of the report include:


  • In this annual forecast report, Mercator Advisory Group has taken a largely conservative approach to forecasting prepaid market growth due to the uncertain regulatory environment, the changes likely to come in an election year, and rapidly changing payments technology. 

  • This forecast assumes that the slow economic recovery will continue and that government benefit programs will continue to shrink, with the exception of Social Security. 

  • Mercator Advisory Group forecasts that growth in the open-loop prepaid loads in the United States be 7% through 2018, reaching a total of $343 billion. 

  • Closed-loop prepaid loads will have a 3% CAGR through 2018, reaching a total of $371 billion. 

  • Based on the much larger total closed-loop market size, the open-loop market will not surpass the closed-loop market until beyond 2018, individual segments notwithstanding.

  • The fastest growing segments are forecast to be the open-loop FSA/HSA Tax Deferred Programs segment, open-loop Money / Financial Services segment, and the closed-loop Digital Media segment. 

  • Campus cards show a potential for strong growth, but face regulatory pressures that may constrain the segment.