ORLANDO — Don't call MasterCard a one-trick pony, says chief product officer Timothy Murphy.

In the wake of the financial crisis, MasterCard Worldwide "has really transitioned from being principally a credit card company that also did some debit to a much more holistic payments company," Murphy told PaymentsSource in an interview May 9 during the Card Forum and Expo here.

The network's transformation has come from "expanding the scope, and thinking about things like prepaid, [person to person] payments, remittances services and so on," he added.

While credit and debit still are important, Murphy says his top priority for the coming year remains the relatively nascent prepaid market.

"My personal commitment is to see us continue to grow share in prepaid and really get at the world beyond cash…and I tend to do that first before other things," he said.

Like many conference attendees, Murphy had early praise for JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s May 8 launch of a reloadable prepaid debit card, which rival network Visa will process.

"I think one of the opportunities that we've seen at MasterCard is the opportunity for financial institutions to sell prepaid cards through the branch, and frankly there's been fairly limited take-up of that over time," Murphy said. "I think Chase is the kind of company that has the focus and ability to execute."

But beyond prepaid, MasterCard is also still dealing with the largely positive fallout from new debit card regulations.

The Purchase, N.Y.-based company reported significant share gains in the debit market earlier this month, in part due to an April 1 rule that requires issuers to provide a choice of at least two unaffiliated debit networks to process transactions (see story). 

Many industry members expected that regulations last year capping debit interchange fees would drive issuers to encourage consumers to use credit cards over debit. But Murphy said he's seen no signs of that so far.

"I've seen no major push around the shift [from debit to credit] yet, so I think it's too early to tell whether that will ultimately pan out," he said.

But he acknowledged that, over time, banks could make some moves in that direction.

"There are ways that can be done that are very appropriate. There's a lot of debit-related spending that looks and feels like credit that can be shifted, so I think there's some places for that to play out," he said, pointing to Fifth-Third's hybrid debit-credit card introduced last year as one "innovative" example.

 

 

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