BOSTON (9/22/10)--By 2014, funds loaded by consumers into prepaid debit and payroll card accounts will increase to $164 billion from $44 billion last year, according to new research. Prepaid debit card account loads will grow to $104 billion from $25 billion. Funds loaded into payroll card accounts will also increase, to $60 billion from $19 billion, said Boston-based Aite Group LLC (pivotalpayments.com Sept. 16 and PaymentsSource.com Sept. 20). Issuing prepaid cards can help financial institutions such as credit unions and banks to better serve the low end of the customer pool, said Aite Research Director Gwenn Bezard. Financial institutions that decline consumers requesting a checking or credit card account likely will use these cards as a "second chance" card instead of turning them away, she said. Prepaid debit card users will double--to seven million users from 3.5 million. The number of payroll card users is expected to grow to 5.4 million users from 1.7 million, the research firm predicted. The combined number of prepaid debit and payroll card users likely will total 12.4 million by 2014. That figure is an increase from 5.2 million users in 2009, Aite said. Of the combined users, 28% last year used their cards as an alternative to bank accounts, while 72% used them as a temporary alternative for cash or checks. By 2014, about 25% of the active combined users will be unbanked or underbanked, an increase from the 11% of users last year. Active prepaid debit cardholders will account for 14%, compared with 8% last year, while active payroll card users will account for 11%, compared with 4% in 2009. Prepaid cards are less expensive to manage than checking accounts, which will turn more costly as banks are forced to limit overdraft fees, said Aite. Aite Group analyzed 2009 data from issuers of prepaid debit and payroll cards and from discussions with 60 payment industry executives.