MasterCard: Latin America revenue to double by 2019

Written by Reuters | Santiago | Updated: Aug 27 2014, 15:32pm hrs
Master cardMasterCard, which handles payments for 2 billion cardholders and tens of millions of merchants. (Reuters)
MasterCard Inc, the world's second-largest debit and credit card company, expects net revenue to double in Latin America over the next four to five years on strong consumer spending and a shift to electronic payment from cash, a leading executive told Reuters.

In recent years, a growing middle class has driven a boom in consumer spending in Latin America and helped sustain economic growth.

"There's much more growth here in Latin America in terms of percentage growth year over year than you have in places like the U.S. or Europe," Ann Cairns, the president of MasterCard's business outside North America, said in an interview on Tuesday.

"The reason is you're having a combination of consumer spending (growth) and also you have a secular shift of cash to electronic payment," Cairns said after wrapping up a tour in the region.

A lack of access to financial services throughout Latin America also presents an opportunity for MasterCard. Only around 39 percent of the population in Latin America has access to financial services, compared with almost 90 percent in high-income countries, according to World Bank data.

"You have a big cross section of the population who are just pure cash-based economy. So if you can get a good secular shift to occur in places like that, then you're going to have a big change," said Cairns, whose international division accounts for 60 percent of MasterCard's business.

MasterCard, which handles payments for 2 billion cardholders and tens of millions of merchants, should see revenue in its international division outpace growth in North America. It will grow to represent 70 percent of total business "over the next few years" as the company looks to incorporate another half a billion people as clients, Cairns said.

The company reports only net revenue figures for its overall operations so it could not give details of how much Latin America represents. MasterCard's net income rose to $931 million in the second quarter ended June 30, from $848 million a year earlier.

'STAYING IN RUSSIA'

Russia is another market with huge revenue possibilities for MasterCard and its competitors.

MasterCard and its larger rival Visa Inc had considered quitting the Russian market after President Vladimir Putin signed a law that would have forced the two companies to deposit $2.9 billion in collateral to keep operating in the country.

But Russian officials have shown willingness to relax the requirements. They have said that if the two companies can find local processing partners by the end of October, they may be able to avoid paying the collateral.

"Russia is a great economy ... It's a very highly cash-based economy, probably over 90 percent cash, and if you look at the size of the population and the wealth, it's got great growth potential for the future as well. So, we're definitely staying in Russia," Cairns said.

In June, MasterCard said it was seeking a Russian partner to process payments made within the country, a move to help it bypass the new rules imposed on foreign card companies in the wake of Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

"What we're doing is assessing the future in terms of how we want the shape of the processing to look, in terms of the domestic partnerships, and we've actually worked with different banks in the market to assess capabilities and how we would partner up."