MasterCard Worldwide is “tailoring strategies” around specific foreign-market situations to expand its global card-business opportunities, Walter Macnee, the card brand’s president of international markets, told attendees at the company’s symposium for media and analysts held Sept. 23 at MasterCard’s headquarters in Purchase, N.Y.

Macnee provided a further glimpse into the details of MasterCard’s recently announced agreement with China UnionPay, which could signal a potential breakthrough in strained U.S.-China trade operations, particularly surrounding financial services (see story). 

MasterCard will provide government-owned China UnionPay, China’s sole payment network, with Internet access for payments through MasterCard’s platform, Macnee disclosed, calling the deal is “a great revenue opportunity.”

The deal also will enhance MasterCard’s card acceptance in China, he said.

“We will assist (China UnionPay) with outbound acceptance, and it’s reciprocal. They will help us with domestic acceptance. The story’s not written yet. We’re looking at mutual advantage,” he said.

Macnee denied that MasterCard’s deal with the China UnionPay could represent a token gesture by China’s government to pacify critics of its world trade policies. (The U.S. on Sept. 15 filed two new trade cases against China through the World Trade Organization, claiming discrimination against credit card companies and U.S. steel manufacturers.)

“It is not a fig leaf,” Macnee said. “We’re not an American company exporting (a product); we’re a global company. To gain perspective, you have to go and sit in Beijing and look at the world as (the Chinese) do,” he said.

MasterCard also is in talks with Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, about providing “infrastructure” for a national identification card Sberbank hopes to develop that could include payment capabilities, Macnee said.

Sberbank for several years has been struggling to develop a national payment network that would compete with Visa Inc. and MasterCard; the bank recently announced plans to abandon the scheme (see story). 

Legislation pending in Russia will determine the potential scope of MasterCard’s participation in the project, Macnee said.

MasterCard has not ruled out deleting its logo from certain versions of a Russian government-issued (domestic) benefits-distribution card, Macnee said. “We are waiting for the legislation. … But in terms of (card) logos and placement, there are all sorts of conversations (we are having),” he said.

But keeping MasterCard’s logo on its cards remains an essential part of any of its global payment products, Macnee said. “If a card is going to have a global opportunity, ... you have to have the brand on the card for the consumer and the merchant to understand (its value),” he said.


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