Mastercard Incorporated (stylized as MasterCard from 1979-2016 and mastercard since 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 suburb of St. Louis, 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 and credit cards 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.
Mastercard, originally known as Interbank/Master Charge, was created by several California banks as a competitor to the BankAmericard issued by Bank of America, which later became the Visa credit card issued by Visa Inc. From 1966 to 1979, Mastercard was called "Interbank" and "Master Charge".
|Traded as||NYSE: MA
S&P 100 Component
S&P 500 Component
(as Interbank Card Association)
|Headquarters||Mastercard International Global Headquarters, Purchase, New York, United States|
|Ajaypal Singh Banga
(President and CEO)
|Products||Credit cards, payment systems|
|Revenue||US$12.497 billion (2017)|
|US$6.622 billion (2017)|
|US$3.915 billion (2017)|
|Total assets||US$21.329 billion (2017)|
|Total equity||US$5.497 billion (2017)|
Number of employees
|~13,400 (December 2017)|
The original banks behind MasterCard were United California Bank (later First Interstate Bank and subsequently merged into Wells Fargo Bank), Wells Fargo, Crocker National Bank (also subsequently merged into Wells Fargo), and the Bank of California (subsequently merged into the Union Bank of California).
In 1966, this group of California banks formed the Interbank Card Association (ICA). With the help of New York's Marine Midland Bank (now HSBC Bank USA), these banks joined with the ICA to create "Master Charge: The Interbank Card". The card was given a significant boost in 1969, when First National City Bank joined, merging its proprietary Everything Card with Master Charge.
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 done in order to suggest a more global scale of operations. 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 March 2012, MasterCard announced the expansion of its mobile contactless payments program, including markets across the Middle East.
In spring 2014, MasterCard acquired Australia's leading rewards program manager company Pinpoint for an undisclosed amount.
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 61.5 million shares at $39 each. The stock is traded on the NYSE under the symbol MA, with a market capitalization of $105.15 billion as of August 2016.
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 on 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."
Both MasterCard and Visa have paid approximately $3 billion in damages resulting from a class-action lawsuit filed by Hagens Berman in January 1996. The litigation cites several retail giants as plaintiffs, including Wal-Mart, Sears, Roebuck & Co., and Safeway.
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.
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, Visa, and many credit card issuers. The suit was filed due to price fixing and other anti-competitive trade practices employed by MasterCard and Visa. A majority of named class plaintiffs have objected and vowed to opt out of the settlement. Opponents object to provisions that would bar future lawsuits and even prevent merchants from opting out of significant portions of the proposed settlement. Stephen Neuwirth, a lawyer representing Home Depot, said, "It's so obvious Visa and MasterCard were prepared to make a large payment because of the scope of the releases being given. It's all one quid pro quo and merchants like the Home Depot are being denied the chance to opt out of that quid pro quo and say this is a bad deal."
Plaintiffs allege that Visa, MasterCard, and major credit card issuers engaged in a conspiracy to fix interchange fees, also known as swipe fees, that are charged to merchants for the privilege of accepting payment cards at artificially high levels. 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.
The settlement provides for the cash equivalent of a 10 basis-point reduction (0.1 percent) of swipe fees charged to merchants for a period of eight months. This eight-month period would probably begin in the middle of 2013. The total value of the settlement will be about $7.25 billion.
Few companies have faced more antitrust lawsuits both in the US and abroad.
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 anti-trust 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 August 23, 2001, MasterCard International Inc. was sued for violating the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
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 dollars for settlement.
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.
As of 2013, MasterCard is under investigation by the European Union for the high fees it charges tourists who use their cards in Europe, and 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 charges non-European tourists much more than customers using cards issued in Europe. MasterCard could be fined up to 10 percent of its 2012 revenue or around $740 million. 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 includes large differences in fees across national borders. For instance, a 50-euro payment might cost 10 euro cents 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 anti-trust 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."
On December 27, 2014, Visa Inc. and MasterCard suspended servicing some Russian banks in Crimea: Rossiya Bank, Sobinbank, SMP Bank and Investcapitalbank, after the USA issued sanctions against the Russian government due to the 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine.
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.
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".
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.
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."
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.
In 1994 Argentinian born Edgardo Apestguia created in Paraguay an ad campaign 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.
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:
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.
In 2017, Ajay Kanwal, Former Regional Chief Executive for ASEAN and South Asia at Standard Chartered Bank has been appointed as Senior Advisor at MasterCard
In 2016, MasterCard UK became one of 144 companies who signed the HM Treasury's Women in Finance Charter, a pledge for balanced gender representation in the company.
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, 50 USD, 100 CAD, 200 NOK, 200 DKK, 80 NZD, 100 AUD, 1000 RUB 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 will stop supporting Paypass completely. While existing plastic and keyfobs will continue to work until their expiration date, no new Paypass-enabled hardware will be 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.
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.
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.