Eighth Annual Open-Loop Prepaid Market Assessment

Second of three annual prepaid reports shows consumer spend on open-loop continues to fuel the market even as public sector funding declines

Boston, MA –The open-loop prepaid market witnessed robust growth in 2010, growing to $148.4 billion — an increase of 19 percent from $124.6 billion in 2009. Mercator Advisory Group’s new report, The Eighth Annual Open-Loop Prepaid Market Assessment, documents the dollars loaded onto open-loop prepaid cards or access devices in 2010. The report closely reviews segments that have demonstrated growth and those that have seen negative changes driven by shifts in technology, consumer behavior, and the economic environment.

The Eighth Annual Open-Loop Prepaid Market Assessment report is the second of the annual trilogy of 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 offers an annual benchmark of the load, shifts, and market dynamics for all open-loop prepaid solutions.

The report outlines the fastest growing open-loop prepaid segments, and also notes several of the 18 segments tracked showed lower growth rates than in previous years, a phenomenon likely the result of the CARD Act and other legislation that impacted open-loop products. This year, Mercator received significant new data for the closed-loop market, which was used to update the rate at which the open-loop market is catching up to the older and larger closed-loop market — thereby pushing off the estimated date when the two markets reach equality.

“Consumers have always been the growth drivers for the open-loop prepaid market, but the importance of consumer adoption has taken on more importance as government disbursements, particularly unemployment, has slowed,” says Tim Sloane, director of Mercator’s Prepaid Advisory Service and author of the report. “With a decline in government disbursements, the economy becomes a critical factor for continued growth. The future for prepaid is extremely foggy given the uncertainties associated with the economy and how the industry will address the challenges imposed by the Federal Reserve, FinCEN, and the OCC.”

Highlights of the report include:

The size and growth rates for all 18 open-loop prepaid segments

A review of the three most recent regulatory challenges faced by the open-loop prepaid industry and why these regulations are likely to have a significant impact on the prepaid value chain.

Updates on the dynamics between open-loop and closed-loop cards based on a record year of available data for analysis.

A review of additional findings derived from the survey responses, including data suggesting greater portfolio movement.


One of the 19 exhibits from the report:

This report contains 28 pages and 19 exhibits.

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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. Mercator Advisory Group is also the publisher of the online payments and banking news and information portal PaymentsJournal.com.