Both formats of pre-paid cards recorded good retail value growth in 2019, although the prospects for the forecast period are in favour of closed loop pre-paid cards. Following the termination of the Quick open loop e-money function in 2017, which had previously featured on all debit cards in Austria, open loop pre-paid cards will likely remain limited to pre-paid cards under the Visa, MasterCard and Maestro brands over the forecast period.
A significant number of Austrians still do not own a credit or charge card, and this is one of the main reasons for Austrian consumers purchasing open loop pre-paid cards, given the format’s wide acceptance online and particularly abroad. In fact, foreign transactions accounted for more the majority of all open loop pre-paid card transactions at the end of the review period with a strong upward trend.
Closed loop pre-paid cards will likely witness good growth in terms of number of cards in circulation, transaction volume and transaction value over the forecast period.
Thanks to the Quick open loop e-money function, MasterCard International was responsible for the majority of open loop pre-paid cards in circulation in Austria in 2018. The vast majority of this was in the form of travel cards and general purpose reloadable cards under the MasterCard and Maestro brands.
Apart from Shopping Card de Luxe, little solid information is available about the competitive landscape in merchant-issued gift cards, although the leading retail brands such as Billa and Spar in food, Saturn and Media Markt in electronics and Libro in media products are very likely among the top issuers. Their products are usually designed and produced by either Variuscard Produktions- und Handels or Exceet Card Austria.
At the end of the review period, rumours about the introduction of reloadable pre-paid cards for the public transport system in Vienna continued. Given the fact that closed loop pre-paid cards remained limited to gift cards at the end of the review period in Austria, this would be a true innovation.
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