Demystifying Cards - The definitive guide to payments and cards

All you need to know to build and launch your own card programme, but with reference made to the wider payment ecosystem for useful context.


So, you want to understand how to build a modern and competitive card programme that puts your business in the driving seat of digital payments innovation?

Well, you’ve come to the right place.

In the U.K., payments with banknotes declined by 50% between 2010 and 2019 to a mere 15% of all transactions, while card payments across Europe have soared from five billion payments per annum to more than 46 billion since the start of the millennium. 

We believe the future of spending is not only cashless but increasingly digital.

And it’s very much against this background that we’ve developed Demystifying Cards - Marqeta’s Guide to Payments and Cards, in which you’ll find a wealth of information on how to establish or strengthen your position in a rapidly expanding card market.  

You’ll also gain an understanding of the fundamental competitive battlegrounds, such as how to offer a richer core card proposition; deliver faster customer onboarding; make the most of data and insights; and practice the best possible customer service. 

Alongside this are insights from brilliant businesses in the vanguard of modern payments products and services innovation, as well as a handy jargon buster, user-friendly explanation of the card ecosystem and a fascinating record of important technological breakthroughs during the postwar era.  

Importantly, the document can be read from start to finish, or you can simply dip in and out of relevant sections. 

But whatever approach you take, the contents promise to equip readers with the skills and knowledge needed to take advantage of the global migration to non-cash payments, whether that be cards, the emerging subscription economy or embedded finance.

Let’s get started*.

1. How we got here

2 min read

What is the context of the card and payments landscape? Learn how the sector evolved into the trillion dollar industry it is today.

2. Card Types

8 min read

Here we talk about the crucial differences between prepaid, debit, credit, physical and virtual cards – there’s a lot more nuance than you might think.

3. The card ecosystem

3 min read

The bedrock of the card ecosystem is the ‘four-party model’. It’s the industry’s accepted framework for processing digital or physical card payments between buyers and sellers. Discover its various elements and where they sit.

4. Key Components

6.5 min read

Learn about the fundamental components and building blocks essential to your card programme’s success before and after it launches.

5. The licensing question

18.5 min read

Understand the different types of operating licences, where roles and responsibilities overlap and which options might work best for your unique product roadmap.

6. Key costs in build your card programme

6.5 min read

Discover how various micro and macro costs within the transaction flow can affect margins once your card programme is live.

7. Monetising your card programme

11 min read

Every card programme needs to turn a profit, and there are different ways to generate income. Learn about the most common ways card programmes can drive revenue.

8. Card Controls: Fraud, decisioning and authorisation

10 min read

Know how to shield your card programme from fraud. This section will help you understand how to build protective agility and processes using instant rule set changes.

9. Launching a card programme

5.5 min read

Find out the steps needed to launch a card programme, whether it’s licensed, BIN Sponsored or programme managed.

10. A world of opportunity

5 min read

Now that your programme’s up and running, your commercial model is working, and your brand is building, what happens next? Let’s take a look at expansion into new markets.

11. Jargon Buster

23 min read

Get up to speed on all the general and regularly used terms in the world of card programmes and payments.

12. Additional resources

4 min read

This collection of links, books, influencers, websites and associated content will help you plan your journey into the world of card issuing.

*This publication is intended to be used for informational purposes only. The views and opinions of third parties expressed in this publication are those of the respective third parties and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Marqeta. Links to third party websites do not constitute endorsements and we do not control or have any affiliation with the content of third party websites.

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