European pre-paid market to hit EUR160bn by 2017 - PSE Consulting

Source: PSE Consulting

New research indicates that Europeans are expected to spend over €160 billion using prepaid cards in 2017, generating over 6 billion transactions per annum, according to PSE Consulting.

Findings from the new research indicate that the European prepaid card market is gaining critical mass:
- Over €160 billion spend is expected by 2017 with open and closed loop prepaid accounts in Europe, Russia and Turkey. This will represent just under 5% of total card spend at the POS in the region. Open loop is anticipated to account for just over €100 billion in turnover.
- A total of six billion prepaid transactions across a card base of just under one billion is anticipated by 2017.
- The Germanic region, UK, and French markets will join Italy as leaders in Europe and they will collectively represent around 65% of prepaid spend across the market.
- The Gifting market (closed and open loop) is still set to dominate spending, generating around 23% of turnover. Other substantial market segments forecast are:

  • Online (internet payment cards that provide a secure alternative to debit/credit cards) and Corporate Benefits (which includes both Corporate T&E and Lunch Voucher products) - collectively these two segments are likely to account for nearly 30% of prepaid expenditure.
  • Youth (which includes products for those that are unable to hold full credit/debit products due to their age) are expected to generate just under 10% of prepaid spend.

Following innovative reports in 2006 and 2008, PSE has just released its 2010 assessment of the EU, Russian, and Turkish prepaid markets. The report has been sponsored by Visa Europe and Atos Worldline.

Whilst providing estimates of future market growth is fraught with difficulties, PSE's estimates have thus far provided a relatively accurate guide to the evolution of the prepaid market. In 2008, PSE estimated €23 billion in open loop prepaid spend by 2010 across Europe, Russia and Turkey. Recent information from Visa and MasterCard show that these forecasts are in line with the actual 2010 market volumes. In 2006, PSE projected that the market would reach €23 billion, although by 2009; the one year delay being due to the global recession and the slower uptake of prepaid in Europe compared to the US.

Europe remains a far from homogenous market for prepaid card products. Findings from the research, which drew on interviews with over 50 prepaid experts from across all markets, highlighted differing expectations for the success of different countries. Whilst over two-thirds of those interviewed thought prepaid was likely to be a success by 2017 (success defined as accounting for over 10% of total card transaction volume), there was considerable variance in optimism. Markets such as Turkey and Italy (where prepaid has already proved itself) are strongly positive. This is in contrast to Scandinavia or CEE where the views are much more pessimistic. In CEE, many issuers still have a preference for debit, and in Scandinavia there is a strong belief that current products meet consumer needs.

Within the 2010 report, PSE also assesses the fees charged for both consumer and corporate open loop products. New card issuance fees were among the most significant cost elements with the average issuance fee for consumers at just under €3. Chris Jones, Director at PSE Consulting, stated: "We are optimistic about the future of prepaid, but issuers need to understand the unique cost elements within the prepaid business case."

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