Revisiting the Prepaid Financial Services Value Chain



Author: Tristan Hugo-Webb
Published on: August 8, 2013


New research from Mercator Advisory Group reexamines the prepaid value chain and its evolution in recent years

Since 2005, Mercator Advisory Group has studied the prepaid value chain and monitored its steady progression. Over the years, the value chain has evolved in response to regulatory changes as well as the general volatility of the market. However, with no one right way of maximizing the utility of the value chain, a spectrum has emerged with some prepaid providers preferring minimal integration or consolidation of the prepaid value chain and others preferring to bring as many aspects of the value chain under one roof as they can.

With advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, coupled with recent regulatory changes that impact the prepaid value chain significantly, now is the ideal time to revisit the prepaid value chain and consider it in more detail.

“As prepaid has evolved over the years, so has its value chain. From the traditional compartmentalized value chain to an almost completely consolidated value chain, the level of integration ranges broadly by firm. Some prepaid card operators like AccountNow fall toward to the low end of the spectrum of consolidation with relatively few changes to the original value chain. On the opposite end of the spectrum, American Express and its Bluebird prepaid card represent one of the most consolidated value chains in the prepaid segment as American Express controls many aspects of its prepaid card program,” comments Tristan Hugo-Webb, Analyst at Mercator Advisory Group and the primary author of the report.

This report is 25 pages long and contains 11 exhibits.

Companies mentioned in this report include: AccountNow, American Express, Green Dot, H&R Block, and NetSpend.

Members of Mercator Advisory Group’s Prepaid Advisory Service have access to this report as well as the upcoming research for the year ahead, presentations, analyst access, and other membership benefits.


Highlights of the report include:

– In-depth examination of the prepaid value chain

– Insight into the spectrum of integration of the prepaid value chain

– Comparisons of different value chains or models utilized by leaders in the prepaid market

– Review and analysis of recent regulatory changes and their impact on the prepaid value chain.



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