Mastercard Incorporated (stylized as MasterCard from 1979 to 2016 and mastercard from 2016) is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in the Mastercard International Global Headquarters in Purchase, New York, United States. The Global Operations Headquarters is located in O'Fallon, Missouri, United States, a municipality of St. Charles County, Missouri. Throughout the world, its principal business is to process payments between the banks of merchants and the card issuing banks or credit unions of the purchasers who use the "Mastercard" brand debit, credit and prepaid to make purchases. Mastercard Worldwide has been a publicly traded company since 2006. Prior to its initial public offering, Mastercard Worldwide was a cooperative owned by the more than 25,000 financial institutions that issue its branded cards.
(as Interbank Card Association)
|Headquarters||Mastercard International Global Headquarters, |
|Ajaypal Singh Banga|
(President and CEO)
|Products||Credit cards, payment systems|
Number of employees
|~13,400 (December 2017)|
|Footnotes / references|
Mastercard, originally known as "Interbank" from 1966 to 1969 and "Master Charge" from 1969 to 1979, was created by an alliance of several regional bankcard associations in response to the BankAmericard issued by Bank of America, which later became the Visa credit card issued by Visa Inc.
Although BankAmericard's debut in 1958 had been a notorious disaster, it began to turn a profit by May 1961. Bank of America deliberately kept this information secret and allowed then-widespread negative impressions to linger in order to ward off competition. This strategy was successful until 1966, when BankAmericard's profitability had become far too big to hide. From 1960 to 1966, there were only 10 new credit cards introduced in the United States, but from 1966 to 1968, approximately 440 credit cards were introduced by banks large and small throughout the country. These newcomers promptly banded together into regional bankcard associations.
In 1966, several bankcard associations joined together to form the Interbank Card Association (ICA). The Interbank branding in 1966 initially consisted only of a small unobtrusive lowercase i inside a circle in the lower right hand corner of the front of each Interbank card; the rest of the card design was the prerogative of each issuing bank. This tiny logo proved to be entirely unsatisfactory for creating nationwide brand awareness in order to compete against the established leader, BankAmericard. In 1969, Interbank developed a new national brand, "Master Charge: The Interbank Card" by combining the two overlapping yellow and orange circles of the Western States Bankcard Association with the "Master Charge" name coined by the First National Bank of Louisville, Kentucky.
In 1968, the ICA and Eurocard started a strategic alliance, which effectively allowed the ICA access to the European market, and for Eurocard to be accepted on the ICA network. The Access card system from the United Kingdom joined the ICA/Eurocard alliance in 1972.
In 1979, "Master Charge: The Interbank Card" was renamed "MasterCard". In 1997, Mastercard took over the Access card; the Access brand was then retired.
In 2002, MasterCard International merged with Europay International, another large credit-card issuer association, of which Eurocard had become a part in 1992.
In mid-2006, MasterCard International changed its name to MasterCard Worldwide. This was to suggest a more global scale. In addition, the company introduced a new corporate logo adding a third circle to the two that had been used in the past (the familiar card logo, resembling a Venn diagram, remained unchanged). A new corporate tagline was introduced at the same time: "The Heart of Commerce".
In August 2010, MasterCard expanded its e-commerce offering with the acquisition of DataCash, a UK-based payment processing and fraud/risk management provider.
Mastercard teamed with Apple in September 2014, to incorporate a new mobile wallet feature into Apple's new iPhone models, enabling users to more readily use their Mastercard, and other credit cards.
In August 2017, Mastercard acquired Brighterion, a Delaware Corporation headquartered in San Francisco, California that provides a portfolio of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. Brighterion holds several patents.
The company, which had been organized as a cooperative of banks, had an initial public offering on May 25, 2006, selling 95.5 million shares at $39 each. The stock is traded on the NYSE under the symbol MA, with a market capitalization of $236.15 billion as of August 2016.
Antitrust lawsuit by ATM operators
Mastercard, along with Visa, has been sued in a class action by ATM operators that claims the credit card networks' rules effectively fix ATM access fees. The suit claims that this is a restraint of trade in violation of federal law. The lawsuit was filed by the National ATM Council and independent operators of automated teller machines. More specifically, it is alleged that Mastercard's and Visa's network rules prohibit ATM operators from offering lower prices for transactions over PIN-debit networks that are not affiliated with Visa or Mastercard. The suit says that this price fixing artificially raises the price that consumers pay using ATMs, limits the revenue that ATM operators earn, and violates the Sherman Act's prohibition against unreasonable restraints of trade. Johnathan Rubin, an attorney for the plaintiffs said, "Visa and Mastercard are the ringleaders, organizers, and enforcers of a conspiracy among U.S. banks to fix the price of ATM access fees in order to keep the competition at bay."
Debit card swipe fee price fixing
Both Mastercard and Visa have paid approximately $3 billion in damages resulting from a class-action lawsuit filed in January 1996. The litigation cites several retail giants as plaintiffs, including Wal-Mart, Sears, Roebuck & Co., and Safeway.
Antitrust settlement with U.S. Justice Department
In October 2010, Mastercard and Visa reached a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department in another antitrust case. The companies agreed to allow merchants displaying their logos to decline certain types of cards (because interchange fees differ), or to offer consumers discounts for using cheaper cards.
Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation
On November 27, 2012, a federal judge entered an order granting preliminary approval to a proposed settlement to a class-action lawsuit filed in 2005 by merchants and trade associations against Mastercard and Visa. The suit was filed due to alleged price fixing practices employed by Mastercard and Visa. About one-fourth of the named class plaintiffs have decided to opt out of the settlement. Opponents object to provisions that would bar future lawsuits and prevent merchants from opting out of significant portions of the proposed settlement.
Plaintiffs allege that Visa Inc. and Mastercard fixed interchange fees, also known as swipe fees, that are charged to merchants for the privilege of accepting payment cards. In their complaint, the plaintiffs also alleged that the defendants unfairly interfere with merchants from encouraging customers to use less expensive forms of payment such as lower-cost cards, cash, and checks.
As of 2018, Mastercard ranked 236 on the Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by revenue.
Antitrust issues in the United States
Mastercard, along with Visa, engaged in systematic parallel exclusion against American Express during the 1980s and 1990s. Mastercard used exclusivity clauses in its contracts and blacklists to prevent banks from doing business with American Express. Such exclusionary clauses and other written evidence were used by the United States Department of Justice in regulatory actions against Mastercard and Visa. Discover has sued Mastercard for similar issues.
In 1996 about 4 million merchants sued Mastercard in federal court for making them accept debit cards if they wanted to accept credit cards and dramatically increasing credit card swipe fees. This case was settled with a multibillion-dollar payment in 2003. This was the largest antitrust award in history.
In 1998, the Department of Justice sued Mastercard over rules prohibiting their issuing banks from doing business with American Express or Discover. The Department of Justice won in 2001 and the verdict withstood appeal. American Express also filed suit.
On November 15, 2004, Mastercard Inc. paid damages to American Express, due to anticompetitive practices that prevented American Express from issuing cards through U.S. banks, and paid $1.8 billion for settlement.
Antitrust investigations in Europe
The European Union has repeatedly criticised Mastercard for monopolistic trade practices. In April 2009, Mastercard reached a settlement with the European Union in an antitrust case, promising to reduce debit card swipe fees to 0.2 percent of purchases. In December 2010, a senior official from the European Central Bank called for a break-up of the Visa/Mastercard duopoly by creation of a new European debit card for use in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA).
WikiLeaks published documents showing that American authorities lobbied Russia to defend the interests of Visa and Mastercard. In response Mastercard blocked payments to WikiLeaks. Members of the European Parliament expressed concern that payments from European citizens to a European corporation could apparently be blocked by the United States, and called for a further reduction in the dominance of Visa and Mastercard in the European payment system.
In 2013, Mastercard was under investigation by the European Union for the high fees it charged merchants to accept cards issued outside the EU, compared to cards issued in the EU, as well as other anti-competitive practices that could hinder electronic commerce and international trade, and high fees associated with premium credit cards. The EU's competition regulator said that these fees were of special concern because of the growing role of non-cash payments. Mastercard was banned from charging fees on cross-border transactions conducted wholly within the EU via a ruling by the European Commission in 2007. The European Commission said that their investigation also included large differences in fees across national borders. For instance, a €50 payment might cost €0.10 in the Netherlands but eight times that amount in Poland. The Commission argues that Mastercard rules that prohibit merchants from enjoying better terms offered in other EU countries may be against antitrust law.
The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) praised the action against Mastercard. BEUC said interbank fees push up prices and hurt consumers. BEUC Director General Monique Goyens said, "So in the end, all consumers are hit by a scheme which ultimately rewards the card company and issuing bank."
In January 2019, the European Commission imposed an antitrust fine of €570,566,000 to Mastercard for "obstructing merchants' access to cross-border card payment services", due to Mastercard's rules obliging acquiring banks to apply the interchange fees of the country where a retailer was located. The Commission concluded that Mastercard's rules prevented retailers from benefitting from lower fees and restricted competition between banks cross border, in breach of EU antitrust rules. The infringement of antitrust rules ended when Mastercard amended its rules due to the entering into force of the Interchange Fee Regulation in 2015, which introduced caps on interchange fees. The Commission did grant Mastercard a 10% reduction of the fine however, in return for Mastercard acknowledging the facts and cooperating with the antitrust investigation.
Sanctions of Russia
On December 27, 2014, Visa Inc. and Mastercard suspended servicing some Russian banks in Crimea: Rossiya Bank, Sobinbank, SMP Bank and Investcapitalbank, after the United States issued sanctions against the Russian government due to the 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine and Crimea annexation.
Regulatory action in Australia and New Zealand
In 2003, the Reserve Bank of Australia required that interchange fees be dramatically reduced, from about 0.95% of the transaction to approximately 0.5%. One notable result has been the reduced use of reward cards and increased use of debit cards. Australia also prohibited the "no surcharge" rule, a policy established by credit card networks like Visa and Mastercard to prevent merchants from charging a credit card usage fee to the cardholder. A surcharge would mitigate or even exceed the merchant discount paid by a merchant, but would also make the cardholder more reluctant to use the card as the method of payment. Australia has also made changes to the interchange rates on debit cards and has considered abolishing interchange fees altogether.
As of November 2006, New Zealand was considering similar actions, following a Commerce Commission lawsuit alleging price-fixing by Visa and Mastercard. In New Zealand, merchants pay a 1.8% fee on every credit card transaction.
Blocking payments to WikiLeaks
In December 2010, Mastercard blocked all payments to WikiLeaks due to claims that they engage in illegal activity. In a response, a group of online activists calling themselves "Anonymous" organised a denial-of-service attack; as a result, the Mastercard website experienced downtime on December 8–9, 2010. On December 9, 2010 the servers of Mastercard underwent a massive attack as part of an Operation Avenge Assange for closing down payments of whistleblowing platform WikiLeaks. According to several news sites, security of thousands of credit cards was compromised during that attack due to a phishing-site set up by the attackers. However, Mastercard denied this, stating that "cardholder account data has not been placed at risk". WikiLeaks spokesman said: "We neither condemn nor applaud these attacks." U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay said that closing down credit lines for donations to WikiLeaks "could be interpreted as an attempt to censor the publication of information, thus potentially violating WikiLeaks' right to freedom of expression".
DataCell, the company that enables WikiLeaks to accept credit and debit card donations, said it would take legal action against Visa Europe and Mastercard. Iceland-based IT firm DataCell said it would move immediately to try to force the two companies to resume allowing payments to the website. DataCell had earlier said that suspension of payments towards WikiLeaks is a violation of the agreements with their customers. On July 14, 2011 DataCell announced they had filed a complaint with the European Commission claiming the closure by Visa and Mastercard of Datcell's access to the payment card networks violated the competition rules of the European Community.
On July 12, 2012 a Reykjavík court ruled that Valitor, Visa and Mastercard's partner in Iceland, had to start processing donations within fourteen days or pay daily fines to the amount of ISK 800,000 (some $6000) for each day after that time, to open the payment gateway. Valitor also had to pay DataCell's litigation costs of ISK 1,500,000.
Corporate branding of all Nigerian ID Cards
In 2014, pursuant to an agreement between Mastercard and the Nigerian Government, acting through the National Identity Management Commission, the new Nigerian ID cards will bear the Mastercard logo, contain personal database data and double as payment cards, irrevocably linking such payments to the individuals, sparking criticism by the Civil Rights Congress alleging that it "represents a stamped ownership of a Nigerian by an American company ... reminiscent of the logo pasted on the bodies of African slaves transported across the Atlantic."
Prepaid debit cards
Mastercard, Comerica Bank, and the U.S. Treasury Department teamed up in 2008 to create the Direct Express Debit Mastercard prepaid debit card. The federal government uses the Express Debit product to issue electronic payments to people who do not have bank accounts, who are often referred to collectively as the "unbanked". Comerica Bank is the issuing bank for the debit card.
The Direct Express cards give recipients a number of consumer protections.
In June 2013, Mastercard announced a partnership with British Airways to offer members the Executive Club Multi-currency Cash Passport, which will allow members to earn extra points and make multi-currency payments. The Passport card allows users to load up to ten currencies (euro, pound, U.S. dollar, Turkish Lira, Swiss franc, Australian dollar, Canadian dollar, New Zealand dollar, U.A.E. dirham and South African rand) at a locked-in rate. When used, the card selects the local currency to ensure the best exchange rate, and if the local currency is not already loaded onto the card, funds are used from other currencies.
Mastercard's current advertising campaign tagline is "Priceless". The slogan associated with the campaign is "There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's Mastercard." The Priceless campaign in more recent iterations has been applicable to both Mastercard's credit card and debit card products. They also use the Priceless description to promote products such as their "priceless travel" site which features deals and offers for Mastercard holders, and "priceless cities", offers for people in specified locations.
The first of these Priceless ads was run during the 1997 World Series and there are numerous different TV, radio and print ads. Mastercard registered Priceless as a trademark. Actor Billy Crudup has been the voice in the US market; in the UK, actor Jack Davenport is the voice. The original idea and concept of the campaign stems from the advertising agency of McCann Erickson (as it was named in 1997).
The purpose of the campaign is to position Mastercard as a friendly credit card company with a sense of humor, as well as responding to the public's worry that everything is being commodified and that people are becoming too materialistic.
Many parodies have been made using this same pattern, especially on Comedy Central, though Mastercard has threatened legal action, contending that Mastercard views such parodies as a violation of its rights under the federal and state trademark and unfair competition laws, under the federal and state anti-dilution laws, and under the Copyright Act. Despite these claims, however, noted US consumer advocate and presidential candidate Ralph Nader emerged victorious (after a four-year battle) in the suit Mastercard brought against him after he produced his own "Priceless" political commercials. In the election ads Nader had criticized the corporate financing of both the Bush and Gore campaigns. Using the theme and some of the language behind the Mastercard "Priceless" campaign the election specified the dollar amounts contributed by corporate interests to both candidates and then summed it up with "finding out the truth ... priceless". Mastercard sued Nader's campaign committee and filed a temporary restraining order to stop the ads. The TRO was not granted and Nader defended the ads by claiming they were protected under the fair use doctrine.
Litigation of "Priceless" ad campaign
In 1994, Argentinian born Edgardo Apesteguía created an ad campaign in Paraguay for Bancard's credit card. Its slogan was "There are things money can't buy, but, for everything else, there is Bancard". Plagiarism lawsuits were filed in Paraguay and Chile against Mastercard and their publicist McCann, who registered the "priceless" slogan ads in the US in 1999 and was represented in Paraguay by Nafta and Biedermann publicists at the time.
Through a partnership with an Internet company that specializes in personalized shopping, Mastercard introduced a Web shopping mall on April 16, 2010 that it said can pinpoint with considerable accuracy what its cardholders are likely to purchase.
Mastercard sponsors major sporting events and teams throughout the world. These include rugby's New Zealand, the MLB, the UEFA Champions League and the PGA Tour's Arnold Palmer Invitational. Previously, it also sponsored the FIFA World Cup but withdrew its contract after a court settlement and its rival, Visa, took up the contract in 2007. In 1997, Mastercard was the main sponsor of the Mastercard Lola Formula One team, which withdrew from the 1997 Formula One season after its first race due to financial problems. It also partners the Brazilian national football team and the Copa Libertadores.
Management and board of directors
Prior to its IPO in 2006, Mastercard was an association that had a board of directors composed of banks. The current board of directors includes the following individuals:
- Richard Haythornthwaite, chairman of the board Mastercard Incorporated, president, PSI UK Ltd
- Ajay Banga, president and chief executive officer, Mastercard Worldwide
- Silvio Barzi, former senior advisor and executive officer, UniCredit Group
- David R. Carlucci, former chairman and chief executive officer, IMS Health Incorporated
- Steven J. Freiberg, senior advisor, The Boston Consulting Group
- Nancy J. Karch, director emeritus, McKinsey & Company
- Marc Olivie, president and chief executive officer, W.C. Bradley Co.
- Rima Qureshi, senior vice president strategic projects, Ericsson
- Jose Octavio Reyes Lagunes, vice chairman, Coca-Cola Export Corporation, The Coca-Cola Company
- Mark Schwartz, vice chairman, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., chairman, Goldman Sachs Asia Pacific
- Edward Suning Tian, chairman, China Broadband Capital Partners, L.P.
- Jackson P. Tai, former vice chairman and chief executive officer, DBS Group and DBS Bank Ltd.
In June 2013, Mastercard has announced the promotion of Gilberto Caldart to head of Latin America and Caribbean division. Caldart joined Mastercard from Citi Brazil in 2008, where he served as country business manager and oversaw the retail bank, consumer finance and cards business. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and accounting, as well as a master's degree from Duke University.
Mastercard Contactless (formerly branded PayPass) is an EMV-compatible, "contactless" payment feature similar to American Express' ExpressPay, and Visa payWave. All three use the same symbol as shown on the right. It is based on the ISO/IEC 14443 standard that provides cardholders with a simpler way to pay by tapping a payment card or other payment device, such as a phone or key fob, on a point-of-sale terminal reader rather than swiping or inserting a card. Contactless can currently be used on transactions up to and including 30 GBP, 25 EUR, 40 CHF, 50 USD, 100 CAD, 200 SEK, 200 NOK, 50 PLN, 200 DKK, 80 NZD, 100 AUD, 1000 RUB, 500 UAH or 2000 INR.
In 2003, Mastercard concluded a nine-month PayPass market trial in Orlando, Florida with JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, and MBNA. More than 16,000 cardholders and more than 60 retailer locations participated in the market trial. In addition, Mastercard worked with Nokia, AT&T Wireless, and JPMorgan Chase to incorporate Mastercard PayPass into mobile phones using near-field communication technology, in Dallas, Texas. In 2011, Google and Mastercard launched Google Wallet, an Android application which allows a mobile device to send credit/debit card information directly to a Paypass-enabled payment terminal, bypassing the need for a physical card, up until the creation of Android Pay.
During late 2015, Citicards in the USA stopped issuing Paypass-enabled plastic, but the keyfob was still available upon request. Effective July 16, 2016, Citicards stopped supporting Paypass completely. While existing plastic and keyfobs continued to work until their expiration date, no new Paypass-enabled hardware was issued to US customers after that date.
QkR is a mobile payment app developed by Mastercard, for the purpose of ordering products and services through a smartphone with payments charged to the associated credit card. It is being deployed for use in large-scale events, such as sport events, concerts, or movie theaters. Unlike other Mastercard mobile payment apps such as Pay Pass, QkR does not use NFC from the phone, but rather an Internet connection.
Users can open the app, scan a QR code located on the back of the seat in front of them, and place orders for refreshments of their choice. The order is dispatched to a nearby concession stand, from where a runner delivers the items to the patrons' seats. It is already deployed in Australian movie theaters and is being tested in Yankee Stadium.
QkR is being marketed to vendors as a replacement for other mobile payment apps and a mobile ordering app, either distributed by the vendor (such as Starbucks's app, McDonald's' app, or Chipotle's mobile ordering app) or by a third party, such as Square, headed by Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey.
Mastercard operates Banknet, a global telecommunications network linking all Mastercard card issuers, acquirers, and data processing centers into a single financial network. The operations hub is located in St. Louis, Missouri. Banknet uses the ISO 8583 protocol.
Mastercard's network differs significantly from Visa's. Visa's is a star-based system where all endpoints terminate at one of several main data centers, where all transactions are processed centrally. Mastercard's network is an edge-based, peer-to-peer network where transactions travel a meshed network directly to other endpoints, without the need to travel to a single point. This allows Mastercard's network to be much more resilient, in that a single failure cannot isolate a large number of endpoints.
Mastercard provides a lot of documents publicly:
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- "Sanctioned: Visa, MasterCard suspend servicing Russian banks in Crimea".
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The sanctions are part of a strategy by the West to exert pressure on Russia for annexing Crimea.
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- "SCANDALOUS: Outrage in Nigeria as government brands National ID Card with MasterCard's logo". Premium Times. August 29, 2014.
President Jonathan, who flagged off the rollout, praised the outcome of a partnership between NIMC, MasterCard and Access Bank. "The card is not only a means of certifying your identity, but also a personal database repository and payment card, all in your pocket," Mr. Jonathan said.
- "SCANDALOUS: Outrage in Nigeria as government brands National ID Card with MasterCard's logo". Premium Times. August 29, 2014.
The new ID card with a MasterCard logo does not represent an identity of a Nigerian. It simply represents a stamped ownership of a Nigerian by an American company," said Shehu Sani of the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria. "It is reminiscent of the logo pasted on the bodies of African salves [sic] transported across the Atlantic.
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- Ajay Kanwal joins as Senior Advisor "Seasoned Banker Ajay Kanwal Charts a New Career Path". Retrieved July 8, 2017.
- Smith, Jacquelyn (December 12, 2012). "The Best Companies To Work For In 2013". Forbes. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
- Chinwala, Yasmine; Spaarwater, Esther; Asimakopoulos, Panagiotis (December 2016). "HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter: Leading the Way" (PDF). gov.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 11, 2018. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
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- "MasterCard's QkR mobile payment system enters trial in Australia". January 27, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
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