VRL, publisher of Cards International,
is releasing two new reports which look at two very different areas
of the cards and payments markets, set to play important roles over
the next few years.

Alternative Payments, written by Ray
Cain, is a comprehensive overview of payments in the retail banking
sector, and looks at the growth of alternative payment channels
such as online and mobile payments. Cain’s report examines the role
of the transaction account, which is at the core of the customer
and bank relationship, and also examines how payment services play
a critical role in customer acquisition and retention. Payments are
also an important source and driver of revenue. At the same time
banks’ traditional role in retail payments is coming under growing
threat from a plethora of alternative payment providers.

Alternative players are establishing
themselves in market niches consistent with the classic model of
disruptive innovation and are looking to expand from there into the
mainstream payments space. Cain’s report cites the examples of
PayPal and Neteller, which have successfully expanded into new
areas and are now in a position to challenge the status quo.

Also contained in the report is an analysis of
the importance of the underbanked consumer segment, which
represents a significant niche market that is not well-served by
bank-based payment methods. In many emerging markets, mobile phone
networks are a low-cost and efficient platform to extend payments
to the hundreds of millions of consumers without bank accounts or
credit cards. A proliferation of initiatives providing mobile
payment services in these markets have sprung up in recent years
driven by telecoms or third parties.

Online alternative payments are being embraced
by merchants as a way to reach new customers, reduce checkout
abandonment, and increase sales, and by shoppers as a convenient
and secure alternative to credit cards. Alternative providers are
also enhancing payments for consumers and merchants by linking them
with marketing capabilities.

Alternative payment providers will continue to
innovate – providing new solutions in underserved market niches and
enhancing payment services in existing markets. The threat of
disruption is very real, states Cain’s report, and banks must work
together in order to compete effectively. This is hindered however
by a lack of private incentives to do so and coordination problems.
While Visa and MasterCard are the natural candidates to perform a
coordinating role, their new status as publicly-owned companies
means they cannot be expected to reliably serve banks’ interests if
these do not coincide with their own. The most pragmatic option may
be to partner with alternative payment providers.

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Cards and Payments in

The second new report from VRL,
Cards and Payments in Asia-Pacific, written by Truong
Mellor, examines the usage of payment cards in the Asia-Pacific
region. It predicts that several key markets will continue to see
significant consumer base and spending growth.

According to the Asian Development
Bank, more than 300 million households in the Asia-Pacific region
lack access to basic financial services, and it remains a very
cash-dominant region. Additionally, issuers remain very cautious
about growth in the Asia-Pacific region given the current global
economic downturn. However, each market brings with it its own
unique set of circumstances.

The report covers both macro and microeconomic
factors that will be responsible for influencing the growth and
profit of the industry, and analyses market demographics, the
structure of the acquiring industry, the regulatory environment,
developments in technology and risk management infrastructure.

The report will look at the challenges of
applying these to the payment cards industry in the Asia-Pacific
region – some of which will clearly drive growth and profitability
more than others in different markets.

Mellor’s report states that the most
successful players in the payment card space across the
Asia-Pacific region will be those institutions that take advantage
of an economy of both scale and scope and a strong distribution

In all likelihood, this will be the major
retail banks, as they already have the required branch presence,
customer base and comprehensive financial information. However, the
onus is on them to move quickly in order to establish themselves in
the payment card market.

To purchase either report, please contact
Joseph Alvarez, head of sales at VRL, on 020 7563 5650 or at