May 13, 2009
2009 Investment Community Meeting
Interim arrangement with
Dual issuance in Canada
a multitude of challenges
This excerpt taken from the MA 10-K filed Mar 16, 2006.
MasterCard programs compete against all forms of payment, including paper-based transactions (principally cash and checks), electronic transactions such as wire transfers and Automated Clearing House payments and other electronic forms of payment, including card-based payment systems. As a result of a global trend in which electronic forms of payment such as payment cards are increasingly displacing paper forms of payment, we have gained market share versus cash and checks in recent years. However, cash and checks still capture the largest overall percentage of worldwide transaction volume.
Within the general purpose payment card industry, we face substantial and increasingly intense competition worldwide from systems such as Visa (including Plus, Electron and Interlink), American Express and JCB, among others. In specific countries, we face significant competition from other competitors such as Discover/Novus in the United States. Within the global general purpose card industry, Visa has significantly greater volume than we do. In certain countries, other competitors also have leading positions, such as JCB in Japan. Our deposit access programs also encounter substantial and increasingly intense competition from ATM and point-of-sale debit networks in various countries, such as Star, NYCE and Pulse in the United States, Interac in Canada and EFTPOS in Australia. We also compete against businesses that issue their own payment cards such as retail stores and petroleum companies. New competitors may also enter our marketplace from time to time. For example, China Union Pay has been established as the predominant domestic card acceptance brand in the Peoples Republic of China, and is seeking to expand its acceptance and cash access network internationally.
Our competitors include operators of proprietary end-to-end payment networks that have direct acquiring relationships with merchants and direct issuing relationships with cardholders, such as American Express and Discover. These competitors have certain advantages that we do not enjoy. Among other things, these competitors do not require formal interchange fees to balance payment system costs among issuers and acquirers, because they have direct relationships with both merchants and cardholders. Interchange fees, which are a characteristic of four-party payments systems such as ours, are subject to increased regulatory scrutiny worldwide. See Risk FactorsLegal and Regulatory RisksInterchange fees are subject to increasingly intense legal and regulatory scrutiny worldwide, which may have a material adverse impact on our revenue, our prospects for future growth and our overall business in Part I, Item 1A of this Report. Because they do not utilize formal interchange fees, operators of end-to-end payment networks to date have generally avoided the same regulatory scrutiny and litigation challenges we face and, accordingly, may enjoy a competitive advantage over four-party payments systems.
In addition, ongoing litigation has and may continue to affect our ability to compete in the global payments industry. For example, under the settlement agreement in the U.S. merchant lawsuit, U.S. merchants now have the right to reject MasterCard-branded debit cards issued in the United States while still accepting other MasterCard-branded cards, which may adversely affect our ability to maintain and grow our debit business in the United States. In addition, as a result of the courts decision in our litigation with the U.S. Department of Justice concerning our Competitive Programs Policy, some of our customers may now do business with American Express or Discover in the United States, which could adversely affect our business. A number of our large customers, including Bank of America, Citibank, HSBC, USAA and GE Finance have announced that they have begun to issue or will issue American Express or Discover-branded cards. See Risk FactorsBusiness RisksWe have repealed our Competitive Programs Policy as a result of a final judgment in our litigation with the U.S. Department of Justice, and our business may suffer as a result in Part I, Item 1A of this Report. Finally, we are being sued in several state and federal courts because of our currency conversion practices. The outcome of these lawsuits potentially could require us to change our currency conversion practices, which may have a material adverse effect on our business. We cannot predict the final outcome of our various litigations and other regulatory proceedings. For a description of these and other matters, see Note 18 to the Consolidated Financial Statements herein.
We compete intensely with other bankcard associations, principally Visa, for the loyalty of our customers. In most countries throughout the world, including the United States, financial institutions typically issue both MasterCard- and Visa-branded payment cards. As a result of this structure, known as duality, we compete with Visa for business on the basis of individual card portfolios or programs. In some countries, particularly Canada, card issuers are non-dual, meaning that they issue either MasterCard or Visa payment cards, but not both. Issuance of MasterCard and Visa debit cards is generally non-dual in the United States as well, due to Visas historical debit exclusivity rule. As a result of the litigation with the U.S. Department of Justice, Visas debit exclusivity rule is no longer enforceable. However, Visa enacted a bylaw that imposes a fee on its 100 largest issuers of debit cards in the United States if they reduce their Visa debit volume by more than 10% which, if enforced, may prevent us from acquiring business from current Visa customers. In non-dual countries, we compete with Visa for a customers entire business.
We face increasingly intense competitive pressure on the prices we charge our customers. In order to stay competitive, we may have to increase the amount of incentives we provide to our customers, including possible pricing discounts. Over the past several years, we have experienced continued pricing reductions. We seek to enter into business agreements with customers through which we offer incentives and other support to issue and promote our cards. However, our customers can terminate their business agreements with us in a variety of circumstances. See Risk FactorsBusiness RisksWe face increasingly intense competitive pressure on the prices we charge our customers, which may materially and adversely affect our revenue and profitability in Part I, Item 1A of this Report.
Over the last several years, the banking industry has undergone rapid consolidation, and we expect this trend to continue in the future. Consolidation represents a competitive threat for MasterCard because our business strategy contemplates entering into business agreements with our largest customers in exchange for significant business commitments to MasterCard. Significant ongoing consolidation in the banking industry may result in a financial institution with a substantial MasterCard portfolio being acquired by an institution that has a strong relationship with a competitor, resulting in a loss of business for MasterCard. See Risk FactorsBusiness RisksConsolidation or other changes affecting the banking industry could result in a loss of business for MasterCard and may create pressure on the prices we charge our customers, which may materially and adversely affect our revenue and profitability in Part I, Item 1A of this Report.
In addition, we face competition with respect to particular segments of the payment card industry. In the United States, for example, MasterCard-branded transactions account for a smaller share of all offline, signature-based debit transactions than they do credit or charge transactions. In addition, many of our competitors process a greater number of online, PIN-based debit transactions at the point of sale than we do, since our Maestro brand has relatively low market penetration in the United States. In addition, our business and revenues could be impacted adversely by any tendency among U.S. consumers or financial institutions to migrate from offline, signature-based debit transactions to online, PIN-based transactions, because the latter types of transactions are more likely to be processed by ATM/debit point-of-sale networks as opposed to us.
We also face competition from transaction processors such as First Data Corporation and Total Systems, some of which are seeking to build networks that link issuers directly with point-of-sale devices for payment card transaction authorization and processing services. Certain of these transaction processors have significantly greater scale than we do, which may provide them with a cost advantage. If these processors grow their transaction volumes more quickly than we do, their scale advantages over us may accelerate and they could capture some of our core processing business. Similarly, some of our competitors provide currency conversion services at the point-of-sale through dynamic currency conversion. Dynamic currency conversion occurs when a transaction is converted at the individual merchant location in real time from the currency of the merchant into the cardholders billing currency, thereby bypassing MasterCards currency conversion processes. When MasterCard performs currency conversion centrally, the transaction is submitted to MasterCard in the currency of the merchant and is converted by MasterCard into the cardholders billing currency. The growth of dynamic currency conversion services could reduce our currency conversion volumes, which could adversely affect our revenues.
We also compete against new entrants that have developed alternative payment systems such as PayPal and payments across mobile devices. Among other things, these competitors provide Internet currencies that can be used to buy and sell goods on-line, virtual checking programs that permit the direct debit of consumer checking accounts for on-line payments, and services that support payments to and from proprietary accounts for Internet, mobile commerce and other applications. A number of these new entrants rely principally on the Internet to support their services, and may enjoy lower costs than we do. In mobile commerce, we also face competition from established network operators. Whereas the MasterCard approach to mobile commerce centers on the use of the consumers payment account as established by their card issuer, network operators may apply mobile consumer payments directly to the customers monthly bill.
We believe that the principal factors affecting our competitive position in the global payments industry are: