Iran’s card and payments market looks like it will maintain strong growth over the next few years, with prepaid especially experiencing a substantial boom. EPI takes a close look at the country and examines where it will be in a few years

Iran’s card payments channel recorded growth during the review period. The nation’s improved banking infrastructure, a consumer shift towards card-based payments and government initiatives to accelerate card payments contributed to the growth during the review period (2008?2012). As the popularity of e-commerce increases and prepaid cards become more commonplace, the channel is projected to grow in volume and value terms over the forecast period (2013?2017).

The card payments channel presents positive growth potential

The card payments channel grew from 60.1m cards in 2008 to 216.2m in 2012, at a review-period CAGR of 37.73%. Over the forecast period, the total number of cards is projected to grow from 263.7m to 423.2m, representative of a forecast-period a CAGR of 12.56%.

In terms of transaction value, the card payments channel recorded a review-period CAGR of 82.47% and is projected to grow from IIR9,987.7tr (US$733.6bn) in 2013 to IIR15,843.1tr in 2017, at a forecast-period CAGR of 12.23%.

In terms of volume of transactions, the channel grew at a review-period CAGR of 63.30% and is forecast to increase from 8.2bn transactions in 2013 to 12.7bn in 2017, at a forecast-period CAGR of 11.55%.

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Prepaid cards category continues to hold a strong position

During the review period, the highest growth was registered in the prepaid cards category, which increased from 11.7m cards in circulation in 2008 to 70.7m in 2012, representing a review-period CAGR of 56.81%. It is projected to reach 170.6m cards in 2017.

There is a demand for prepaid gift cards in Iran. Both the retail and corporate segments use them and they have become especially prevalent for internet shopping, especially during festival seasons.

The key growth drivers during the review period were an increased demand from the unbanked population for transaction facilities, the use of prepaid cards for conducting e-commerce transactions, and reward programs.

Consumer shift towards card payments has supported increased levels of card use

Iran’s payment channel was dominated by check payments during the review period. The total value of check payments increased from IIR8.15 quadrillion in 2008 to IIR12.84 quadrillion in 2012, at a CAGR of 12.04%.

Due to growing consumer awareness, the acceptance of cards at retail outlets, card-based reward programs and government efforts to accelerate the use of cards, the total value of card payments increased from IIR722.9tr in 2008 to IIR8.01 quadrillion in 2012, at a CAGR of 82.47%.

Growth in online retailing resulting in enhanced card use

Growth in internet penetration rates, an increase in per capita income and consumer spending has resulted in growth in the amount of transactions carried out online. The e-commerce market valued US$10bn in 2011, and is projected to increase over the forecast period.

To further develop the e-commerce market, seminars, conferences and workshops are regularly conducted by government and non-government organizations.

To benefit from the growth in e-commerce, banks are expanding their merchant and point-of-sale (POS) terminal networks as well as upgrading their internet banking infrastructure.