MasterCard Sees Opportunity In Prepaid’s Global Growth

Prepaid card services have made no shortage of headlines lately, as more and more consumers turn to traditional banking alternatives. We’re familiar with prepaid’s growth in the U.S., but who’s using it around the globe? spoke with Matt Lanford, head of prepaid, Europe, for MasterCard to discuss MasterCard’s rePower program, its global growth, and how prepaid ties in to a “world beyond cash.” 

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MasterCard Sees Opportunity In Prepaid’s Global Growth

We know prepaid is expanding in the U.S., but how quickly is it being adopted around the globe?

According to Matt Lanford, head of prepaid, Europe for MasterCard, prepaid is growing even faster than you may think. spoke with Lanford to discuss MasterCard’s rePower platform, where the prepaid market is headed and why prepaid should appeal to a growing number of consumers around the world.

To illustrate prepaid’s expansive global growth, Lanford cited a bi-yearly MasterCard study that offers some incredible prepaid stats. According to the study, the spend on prepaid cards in Europe is expected to reach $149 billion U.S. dollars by 2017 – a 27 percent growth rate from 2010. If you expand prepaid’s parameters to a global scale, MasterCard predicts that by 2017, the prepaid industry will see $822 billion in spend.

“Prepaid is aligning very well with new, innovative technologies such as mobile and contactless, and we see prepaid is being used over and over again in many emerging technologies,” Lanford said. “I really believe that prepaid is this platform for innovation, enabling a lot of this to take place.”

One innovative prepaid service Lanford highlighted is MasterCard’s rePower program: a voucher-based prepaid card that allows consumers to do more with their cash. According to Lanford, rePower’s strengths are its simplicity, convenience and inclusiveness.

“It’s simple to reload because you purchase a voucher, go onto a website and redeem that voucher. It’s more convenient because you can find this voucher at any Ukash merchant, or anywhere Ukash vouchers are currently being distributed today. And it’s inclusive because the financially underserved really have a reloadable payment method to convert cash to electronic means,” Lanford said.

So where does the rePower system fit in with MasterCard’s vision of a “world beyond cash?”

According to Lanford, “When we talk about cashless economies, what we don’t truly mean is ‘there is no cash ever available.’ Because to be honest we don’t believe that we can ever truly become cashless.”

“What we really mean is … today, the personal consumer expenditure that is done by electronic means is about 15 percent, and 85 percent of PCE is done by cash. Our vision of a world beyond cash is where that ratio flips, where that 85 percent is done electronically, and 15 percent is done on cash itself.”

To hear more Lanford on the rePower system and the future of prepaid in Europe, listen to the full podcast below.


Matthew Lanford
Senior Business Leader
Head of Prepaid Europe

Matthew Lanford is a Vice President/Senior Business Leader with the Global Prepaid Product & Solutions Group of MasterCard Worldwide and the Prepaid Product Lead for Europe. Mr. Lanford has regional responsibility for innovation, product development, go-to-market strategy and commercialization of the MasterCard prepaid portfolio of products.

Previously based in the US, Mr. Lanford successfully managed MasterCard’s commercial prepaid strategy and suite of prepaid healthcare solutions, including the development and implementation of innovative initiatives such as real-time substantiation of healthcare purchases on MasterCard prepaid cards.

Mr. Lanford has over 20 years of experience in the payments industry. Prior to joining MasterCard, he was a director at Citigroup Corporate Investment Bank Global Transaction Services responsible for health savings accounts product management. Before joining Global Transaction Services he managed new product development activities for Citishare, Citigroup’s global ATM and PIN POS debit transaction processing business.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Lanford held positions in Budapest, Hungary and the United States with Euronet Worldwide, Inc. a global provider of payment network, mobile and software solutions, managing the company’s European ATM operations center and software development team. He also held product development positions with ARYSYS, Inc., a software solutions provider of ATM, POS and card processing products.

He has a Bachelor of Science – Computer Science degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

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