General purpose reloadable prepaid cards : penetration, use, fees and fraud risks
Abstract: Prepaid cards are the most rapidly growing payment instrument. General purpose reloadable (GPR) prepaid cards, in particular, have gained considerable traction especially among the unbanked and underbanked. How these cards are used is now of acute interest to both policymakers, seeking to ensure broad access to electronic payment methods, consumer protection for prepaid cards, and payments system security, and to payment card industry participants, desiring to advance their product offerings and business models. This study examines the end-user experience of using a GPR card. It investigates which factors, if any, affect the intensity and duration of GPR card use, estimates the fee burden associated with various card usage patterns, and calculates fraud rates by transaction and merchant type. Because we lack cardholder information other than zip code, we supplement our card data with local demographic and socioeconomic data to test whether these factors are correlated with the observed variation in card use and incurred fees. Our results suggest that both account and local socio-demographic characteristics significantly influence the life span, the load and debit activities, the shares of purchase and cash withdrawals, and the average number and value of fees incurred per month, and that transaction and merchant types influence the rate of fraudulent transactions.
File(s): File format is application/pdf https://www.kansascityfed.org/documents/7715/rwp14-01.pdf
Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Part of Series: Research Working Paper
Publication Date: 2014-02-13
Number: RWP 14-1
Pages: 75 pages