JPMorgan Chase & Co. intends to convert more that half of the former Washington Mutual Inc.'s debit MasterCard portfolio to Visa check cards during the next several months, a source familiar with the deal confirms to CardLine sister publication ATM&Debit News. The source declined to be identified because the change had not been officially announced. Chase will reissue some of WaMu's debit cards before their expiration dates. Last year, New York-based Chase purchased Seattle-based WaMu, which had filed for bankruptcy protection (CardLine, 9/26). WaMu, the largest issuer of debit MasterCards, earlier agreed to convert 11 million to 15 million debit cards to MasterCard's contactless PayPass brand, which competes with Chase's Blink contactless brand. Analysts had speculated that Chase, a Visa issuer, would convert WaMu's debit cards to the Visa brand. "We recognize that, given the highly competitive nature of our industry and the challenging environment facing our financial institution customers today, decisions such as these can occur," MasterCard says in a statement. The card brand does not expect the move "to have a material impact on MasterCard's revenue." Though the branding switch is a step backward for MasterCard's plans to increase its share of the U.S. signature-debit market, opportunities for the brand still exist in the marketplace, one analyst says. "They will always have a role and will always have a significant role because at the end of the day the marketplace doesn't like doing business with one vendor or one brand," says Les E. Riedl, president and CEO of Alpharetta, Ga.-based consulting firm Speer & Associates Inc. The unnamed source tells ATM&Debit News Chase will continue to work with MasterCard for debit, prepaid and commercial credit card programs. MasterCard has other debit deals with Chase, including cards cobranded with Continental Airlines Inc. and the Chicago Bears football team, MasterCard says in a statement.


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