The results of diverse strategic initiatives around the world helped buoy MasterCard Worldwide’s overall processed transactions during last year’s fourth quarter.

And the company also is beginning to see incremental increases in transaction volume in the U.S. caused by new card network routing rules, MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga told analysts during a conference call to discuss the company’s earnings.

During the call, Banga said he sees progress in MasterCard’s efforts to ink deals with banks to make its Maestro the alternative PIN-debit brand on the back of their debit cards.

First Data Corp. executives made similar claims Feb. 1 regarding its Star network (see story).

As part of the network-exclusivity rule within the so-called Durbin amendment to the Dodd-Frank law, banks are required to provide at least two unaffiliated debit-network brands on their cards to give merchants more routing options. The routing rule, which the Federal Reserve Board implemented as part of the law, goes into effect April 1.

KeyCorp’s KeyBank Community Bank on Feb. 1 announced an agreement with MasterCard to add Maestro PIN-debit transaction-processing capabilities to its cards.

Noting the KeyBank deal, Banga indicated additional banks are beginning to “make decisions,” but he did not specify which other banks may add Maestro as an option.

Asked whether he expected PIN debit to take some share of transactions from signature debit, Banga said it is not apparent yet whether there will be much movement either way. There is “no real incentive for a merchant to move from one to the other because the merchant discount rate has equalized,” he noted.

Banga also suggested he believes that a PIN-based standard for EMV chip cards is preferable to the chip-and-signature route some banks are taking as the U.S. moves to adopt more-secure EMV card technology.

MasterCard hopes to “consult with merchants” as it works through incentives for merchants to adopt chip cards, and “the most secure way … would be that we are going to EMV and PIN,” he said.

MasterCard on Jan. 30 announced its U.S. roadmap to EMV conversion, five months after Visa Inc. made a similar move, though Visa is more open to the chip-and-signature method for EMV cards (see story).

MasterCard also is optimistic about developing new revenue channels through emerging mobile-payments technology and social media channels including Facebook, Banga said, noting that company’s growing payments revenue (see story).

Potentially working more closely with Facebook to develop consumer card payments further through the site “is a huge opportunity for us, just as it is for other people as well,” Banga said. “We’re all chatting with (Facebook), and we’re all trying to do business with them.”

In the U.S. and around the world for the quarter ended Dec. 31, MasterCard reported sales-volume growth in all regions, although certain countries’ growth “decelerated” because of European economic troubles, Banga noted, specifically in Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

U.S. credit purchase volume during the quarter rose 5.5%, to $134 billion from $127 billion a year earlier, while credit purchase volume outside the U.S. rose 15.3% to $346 billion from $300 billion.

U.S. debit purchase volume during the quarter rose 18.2% to $104 billion from $88 billion, while debit purchase volume outside the U.S. rose 18.9% to $63 billion from $53 billion.

Net revenue rose 20.1%, to $1.73 billion from $1.44 billion, while net income dove 95.4%, to $19 million because of a $495 after-tax special charge for litigation (see story).

The charge represents the company’s financial portion of a potential settlement with merchants who claim Visa and MasterCard conspired to suppress competition by banning merchants from steering customers to cheaper forms of payment (see story).

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