The payments industry should not view consumers’ changing spending habits coming out of the recession as a threat but instead as an opportunity to provide new products and services to meet customer needs, Chris McWilton, president of U.S. markets at MasterCard Worldwide, said earlier this week during a keynote speech at the 22nd annual Card Forum and Expo in Orlando.

Consumers are less likely to want to go into debt, and they want help in controlling their budgets, McWilton said. “Consumers today want to control their spending, and it’s up to us to make it easier for them to do so,” he said, noting issuers should find ways to “add value to the system so consumers are not financially harmed.”

McWilton also challenged Congress’ notion that interchange unfairly sides with issuers at the expense of merchants. He said MasterCard believes its average interchange rate of 1.85% represents a balance for both sides of card transactions, even though revenue from interchange for issuers recently has not kept up with rising charge-off rates.

An amendment the Senate approved last week to a financial reform bill that would regulate debit interchange rates would throw the system out of balance, McWilton said (see story).

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