PULSE Debit Study Illuminates Market Dynamics

by Mercator Advisory Group 0

Results from the annual PULSE Debit Issuer Study were released today. This is the eighth year in the series and represents metrics and opinions from U.S. debit issuers across the market spectrum. It’s most significant findings include:

• Continued validation that debit issuers exempt from Regulation II (debit fee interchange regulation) have seen revenues impacted and believe they will continue to experience a downward trend.
• Consumer use of debit cards increased in both transactions and volume with PIN debit leading the way by posting a 14% increase YOY in transaction market share.
• Issuers are exploring the potential of GPR cards to help control account costs and reach new markets posting double digit increases.
• EMV strategies are mixed with about a third of the issuers polled planning on introducing chip cards to the market in 2014, but dual routing requirements continue to cloud the issue.
• Mobile payments are being tested but enthusiasm has been tempered by the market realities of shifting consumer behavior.

For 2012, issuers reported strong performance in key debit metrics: penetration, active rates and usage (transactions per card). Penetration and active rates both improved year-over-year. Penetration increased to 77 percent from 76 percent in 2011, and active rates were 68 percent, compared to 66 percent in 2011. The average active cardholder performed 19.4 debit transactions per month in 2012, up from 18.3 in 2011. As a result, the total annual spend per active consumer debit card reached $8,753 in 2012 vs. $8,326 in 2011.

Even though retail financial institutions have made the initial transition from a pre-Durbin to a post-Durbin operating environment, the realities of the market are not offering much in the way of breathing space. Change continues to come at this industry at a rapid pace.

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