MasterCard, which announced its earnings hours after the Isis mobile wallet venture revealed plans to expand nationwide, faced questions over where the card network fits in the evolving mobile payments ecosystem.
Near Field Communication, the technology behind Isis' contactless mobile payments offering, "has opportunities because it is a technology applicable, not just to payments, but for delivering products around security and loyalty," Ajay Banga, MasterCard's president and CEO, said in response to a question in the company's July 31 conference call to discuss earnings.
"Anything that helps the whole shopping experience is an important aspect in the upcoming transition," Banga said.
While not mentioning the Isis Mobile Wallet in particular, Banga said he considers NFC a "long-term" technology.
MasterCard, for its part, is developing its MasterPass digital wallet as a barometer for the card brand's future growth, Banga added.
Already, MasterCard says mobile payments, security and financial inclusion projects have become key aspects of its business.
"Look at contactless payments in Australia, where 25% to 30% of all transactions less than $100 are contactless," Banga said. "That's a big number compared to where they used to be two years ago."
MasterCard introduced the MasterPass digital wallet in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K., and is engaged in nine financial inclusion programs with various government entities.
MasterCard's future relies on this type of innovation, said Banga, who came to MasterCard three years ago with plans to increase product development and develop new ideas for the card brand.
MasterCard can point to about 20 deals with mobile operators in the last three years as proof that it has convinced these companies of the merits of MasterCard technology, Banga said.
"Three or four years ago we had no deals," Banga said. "The dialogue used to be how the mobile operators wouldn't need the banks or the card brands."
MasterCard plans to further diversify, both in geography and the types of clients it will work with, he added. The company will focus on global payments, e-commerce and data analytics.
MasterCard rode the wave of growing consumer confidence and increased spending with payment cards to higher-than-expected profits. Its profit rose 21%, to $848 million, in the second quarter from a year earlier, due largely to increased spending worldwide.
Net revenue for the quarter was $2.1 billion, a 15% increase. Its gross dollar volume was just more than $1 trillion, or a 13% increase. MasterCard processed 9.5 billion transactions, an 11% increase over last year.
As of June 30, 2013, the close of the second quarter, the company's bank customers had issued 1.9 billion MasterCard and Maestro-branded cards.
"I don't want to create a new metrics for our innovations that everyone would try to track," Banga said. "But you should know that there are several people in this company whose only job, if they want to come to work on Jan. 1, 2014, is that they better have new ideas or they won't be around. That, I can promise."