2015 Is U.K.’s ‘Year of Prepaid’ Says Group (March 25, 2015)
An industry group is calling 2015 the “year of the prepaid economy” in the U.K., as consumers there increasingly adopt prepaid cards for everyday spending, online shopping and transit. A new report from the Prepaid International Forum (PIF) cited several statistics that show strong growth in the U.K. prepaid market, including a 380 percent increase in the number of prepaid products available to consumers over the past eight years, from just 50 in 2007, to 240 currently on offer. And, as of the start of this year, 35 percent of U.K. consumers regularly use a prepaid card to pay for goods and services, according to MasterCard. The rise in prepaid cards has gone hand-in-hand with a decline in credit card usage, PIF noted, citing data from the British Retail Consortium showing credit card transaction volume down 13 percent in June of 2014, compared to the previous year.
Across the entire European Union, 6 percent of prepaid cards are used specifically for online shopping—largely as a tool to mitigate the risk of payment data being stolen by fraudsters. Meanwhile, private and public organizations are using prepaid expense cards to control costs. And by 2017, MasterCard projects government agencies in the U.K. and Ireland will pay $15 billion in benefits through prepaid cards. Governments also have been behind the push for prepaid initiatives in public transportation, such as Transport for London’s Oyster card program. The U.K. Post Office, meanwhile, is one of the country’s biggest drivers of prepaid growth, with more than 4 million cardholders across its product line, which includes prepaid gift, travel and GPR cards.
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