After a year filled with the election, ups and downs in the stock market and the approaching fiscal cliff, what will 2013 hold for consumers? Oysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of credit card comparison website CardHub and former senior director in Capital One's credit card division, offers a few predictions.
- The fiscal cliff won’t impact consumers— It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you sit on, no one wants to take a flying leap off the 'fiscal cliff' and feel what the bottom is like. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see a resolution before the clock hits zero, but even if it comes a few days later, there won’t be any lasting repercussions and consumers’ wallets won’t feel any negative effects. Sure, there might be some market fluctuation between now and then, much as there was when the debt ceiling dominated the discussion on cable news shows, but you can bet that the impending crisis will be averted or, perhaps more accurately, postponed.
- Mobile wallet technology won’t catch on— There was a lot of buzz surrounding mobile wallets in 2012, and while consumers might be excited about this new technology and the prospect of having one less item to carry around, widespread adoption isn’t going to happen in 2013. There are just too many factors conspiring against it. From lingering security concerns to market fragmentation and unsatisfied infrastructure requirements, there are a number of pretty big dominoes that need to fall first.
- Overall credit availability will increase— The $43.5 billion in credit card debt that Card Hub projects U.S. consumers will ultimately incur in 2012 is a clear sign that credit is easier to come by than in 2011. As the economy continues to improve and unemployment falls, this trend will continue.
- Secured credit cards will continue to become more popular—The secured card market should grow in 2013 as people become more familiar with them and issuers have time to develop new offers. Interestingly, secured cards could also be the solution to the issue of stay-at-home spouses being unable to independently build credit, assuming federal regulators realize how simple such a remedy would be and eliminate redundant income verification requirements for this card segment.
- There will be a prepaid card boom— Prepaid cards have long been the sleeping giant of personal finance, slowly becoming more popular without much fanfare. Well, the Durbin Amendment woke that giant up by capping debit card interchange fees and thereby blocking a $9.4 billion annual revenue source for banks, forcing them to search for alternatives. Prepaid cards are a natural fit since they offer pretty much the same functionality as the combination of a checking account and debit card yet are unregulated.