Purchase, N.Y.-based MasterCard is working with Sao Paulo, Brazil-based Itau Unibanco in establishing and operating an electronic payments network in the South American country.

The 20-year agreement between the two companies will also allow Itau to issue credit, debit and pre-paid cards as part of the new payments network, according to a March 16 news release. MasterCard will handle the network's operations and transaction routing. The partnership is subject to regulatory approval before the network can be formed.

"This strategic alliance will allow us to focus on growing the issuing and acquiring operations, especially as it relates to the new payments network," said Milton Maluhy Filho, executive director of Itau Unibanco, in the release. "This will offer access to new payment technologies, benefit from economies of scale and efficiency, and capitalize on MasterCard's experience in managing leading payment brands."

Itau, one of the largest banks in South America, has operations in 19 countries across the Americas, Asia and Europe. In Brazil, the bank has 5,000 full-service branches and nearly 30,000 ATMs.

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