Illustrating it continues to be a strong leader in the marketplace, Meta Payment Systems had 22.7 million “active” prepaid debit cards in circulation as of the end of December, up 26.8% from 17.9 million a year earlier, according to PaymentsSource research. Active cards are those used within the previous 30 days.

Meta also experienced rising transaction volumes last year. Consumers spent $3.9 billion on active cards during the three months ended Dec. 31, up 38.4% from $2.4 billion during the same period in 2008.

Meta Financial Group Inc., Meta Payment’s parent, recently announced it would refocus its business model on its existing payments efforts instead of pursuing new product initiatives. In February, it secured $5.65 million worth of funding from Cash America International Inc., a payday lender. Meta planned to use some of that funding for its payments business, particularly card issuing.

“It sounds like they are going to focus on the one thing they feel they do best,” which is payments and card issuing,” says Ben Jackson, senior analyst of the prepaid advisory group for Mercator Advisory Group. “Being careful is not going to hurt them at all.”

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