Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Aite Group: Walk-in Bill Payments: The Prepaid Storm

The Aite Group has issued a new report that predicts "by 2010, over 1.3 billion walk-in bill payments will be performed in the United States, including cell phone top-up, up from about 1.0 billion in 2005. Walk-in bill payment processors will generate US$1.9 billion in revenues by 2010, up from US$1.1 billion in 2006."

Gwenn Bézard at the Aite Group said, "Strong growth in prepaid mobile phone top-up volumes will contribute in reshaping the walk-in bill payment by turning top-up processors into a major distribution force. We expect further consolidation between mobile top-up processors and postpaid bill payment providers."

The report predicted zzz'strong growth for cell phone top-up at the point-of-sale," and also remarked that "walk-in locations' share of total prepaid mobile top-up volumes will fall from 92% in 2005 down to 79% by 2010. Virtual top-up (when the reload is made directly from the handset using bankcards or ACH) will grow its market share as an alternative to the walk-in channel from 10% in 2006 to 21% by 2010."

Bézard added, "Although the prospects are still remote today, in-store and virtual top-up methods have the potential to lead wireless phone carriers or related players into merchant acquiring, threatening banks' and card networks' market positions."