Decoupled Debit

8 November 2010

Winston Churchill may have been referring to Payment systems in the US when he said:

It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma

The macro economic impacts of the recent US card legislation portend substantial business change for Visa and Mastercard. The US debit card market is soon to resemble Australia and Canada with other countries soon to follow (See China and India). Retail Payments over the next 20 years are likely to morph substantially from their current issuer/network dominance. In addition to regulatory changes, new technologies and new value networks are creating a new competitive dynamic which will bring more than $5-10B in capital investment into the payments within the next 2-3 years.

My wife’s visit to Target this week prompted a revisit to the decoupled debit space. Target’s value proposition: hand me your check and sign a release form, you will then receive a RedCard linked to your checking account and good for 5% off all future purchases. Will we see more of this type of value proposition (which Durbin enables through its steering provision)?


Decoupled debit is interesting for several reasons:

  1. The issuer is not required to be a bank in order to offer an account and issue a card
  2. The products can exist as private label products or co-branded products
  3. The products can potentially build significant loyalty
  4. The products reduce costs when delivered and managed correctly
  5. The products leverage the existing payments infrastructure and standards

Retail Business Case

Retailers have a different mindset when it comes to alternative or decoupled products because they are stakeholders in the product, not just the transaction. They look at the product as a way to help them:

  • Reduce cost of payments
  • Build loyalty
  • Offer merchant-designed promotions
  • Drive more store sales
  • Segment and target customer groups
  • Leverage ‘spend information’

For those outside the US I recommend reading:

6 thoughts on “Decoupled Debit

  1. Pingback: Target Red Card – Back to the Future? « FinVentures

  2. Pingback: Target REDCard – Back to the Future? « FinVentures

  3. Pingback: How can Banks Win in Payments? « FinVentures

  4. Pingback: Disrupting Payments at the POS « FinVentures

  5. Pingback: Debit Round 2 – Rates $0.21 to ?$0.05? | FinVentures

  6. Pingback: Will they or won't they pay? - Tomorrow's Transactions

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