Prepaid industry sets out charter for growth

Companies involved in the supply of prepaid products and services are to be subject to a new customer charter, launched today by the Prepaid International Forum (PIF), the not-for-profit trade body representing the prepaid financial services sector.

The move comes in recognition of the increasingly significant role prepaid plays in the overall payments market both in the UK and globally.

The UK is one of Europe’s largest prepaid markets, with the European market estimated to be worth £65 billion by Mastercard. This is just part of the major global growth in prepaid. The total sector is expected to be worth US$536 billion by 2020 (up from US$377 billion in 2016), overtaking both credit and debit in terms of its growth.

PIF has created the customer charter to promote standards over and above the legal minimum and to ensure consistency across global markets.

Alastair Graham, spokesperson for PIF, says: “The explosion in the prepaid sector means that it is now one of the most significant components of the global payments economy and as such we need to ensure its current strong reputation is maintained.

“Prepaid is also at the cutting edge of new developments and innovation, its flexibility making it a key driver of payment services for mobile and ecommerce solutions. As such we need to ensure that these emerging companies don’t cut corners and that they appreciate their obligations to maintain trust and protect customers.”

The charter builds on the four key principles of the PIF Code of Conduct; (

  1. To promote and demonstrate fairness and clarity to customers and end-users
  2. To operate in a manner compliant with regulations
  3. To encourage sound business practice
  4. To maintain and enhance the reputation of the industry

The charter addresses issues such as the inclusion of fees for prepaid payment services, ensuring these are displayed “clearly and accurately” in all marketing materials, and the right to easily access current balances.

It also places the onus on companies to proactively inform customers of their rights should problems occur, for example if a card or payment details are lost or stolen, or if a there is a disputed purchase.

Alastair Graham continues: “The charter makes clear that responsible operations are a condition of membership to PIF and that all members bear a wider responsibility to maintain standards and not bring the prepaid sector into disrepute.

“Members not maintaining these standards, could have their membership revoked and lose their rights to use the PIF charter mark on their marketing and company materials.

“This provides all consumers with the reassurance that when they see the PIF mark, the company concerned is trustworthy and operates to the highest international standards.”

Alongside the charter, PIF has also created an advisory note for consumers, explaining how PIF works to enshrine the following principles in the prepaid sector, published in their myth busting guide):

  • Prepaid is safe and regulated
  • Consumers are protected
  • Any prepaid charges are transparent and fair
  • Prepaid can be used as widely as traditional methods of payment
  • Prepaid is widely used by people of ages and incomes
  • Prepaid is at the forefront of innovation in payment
  • Prepaid is committed to improving customer experience
  • Checks on prepaid accounts prevent inappropriate activity


The Prepaid International Forum (PIF) is a principal trade association for the prepaid industry. We believe that prepayment is a responsible way to pay for goods and services, and that consumers should be confident in the security of prepaid services and the money that is stored on their behalf.

Established in 2007 as a not-for-profit organisation, PIF works closely with industry, regulators, government departments, consumer bodies and the media to promote understanding of prepaid as well as providing support and education to proponents of prepaid worldwide.