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Mastercard bets on bank partnerships for Indian expansion

Mastercard Inc. is working with several banks to expand its payment acceptance network in India. The card network giant posted a net profit of $1.8 billion for the first quarter of the current financial year, up by 8% from last year, according to its financial results.

In the last few weeks, Mastercard announced partnerships with Bank of Baroda and RBL Bank to launch a Quick-Response payments acceptance solution. Cardholders and small-medium-enterprises on the banks’ network can accept cashless payments using their cards. In March, it launched a wearable tech payments solution with Axis Bank. 

With Bank of Baroda, Mastercard is launching a new credit card which has a Bharat QR Code on the card face, converting the payment instrument into an acceptance point. With RBL, Mastercard has launched an app called Pay by Bank which will allow account holders of the bank to make both in-store and online payments through their mobile banking application across the world. Mastercard also has major stakes in domestic payments companies Razorpay and PineLabs.

“As per a recent Mastercard survey, 49% of people in India are planning to make more purchases online. At the same time, 68% consumers in India think less in-store shopping is here to stay. A large majority – 77% – also believe the shift to contactless payments is permanent,” the card company said in a press release.

In an earnings call with analysts, Michael Miebach, Chief Executive Officer of Mastercard said that it has expanded its partnership with the Bharti Airtel Group. This would include issuing virtual cards to Airtel Money customers and QR Code solutions.

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“We’ve extended our partnership with the Airtel Payments Bank in India along with the recent investment in Airtel Mobile Commerce. While our digital capabilities are enabling us to penetrate new geographies, our multi-rail strategy is allowing us to provide greater choice and capture new payment flows,” Miebach said. Earlier this month, Mastercard invested $100 into Airtel’s Africa business. 

On digital currencies

Mastercard, like its global rival Visa and other payment companies like PayPal and Stripe, is getting into the crypto-currency game. It recently invested in Ethereum platform ConsenSys and launched crypto-debit cards with crypto-exchanges Wirex, LVL and BitPay.

“We have several new crypto partnerships approved for launch this quarter including a partnership with Gemini, a leading crypto platform here in the US to launch a first of its kind cryptocurrency rewards credit card that allows consumers to receive crypto rewards on everyday purchases. And over in Spain, Crypton, a crypto exchange launching a Mastercard Crypto Card,” Miebach said.

He said that there is a great deal of interest and activity in digital currencies and that Mastercard is looking to support central banks across the world with their Central Bank Digital Currencies. The company will scale its blockchain investments to support sovereign digital currencies going forward. In September 2020, Mastercard opened a sandbox for testing and building CBDCs.

“In central bank digital currencies, we continue to engage with central banks around the world and our virtual testing platform is helping them design features similar issuance and evaluate interoperability with existing payment systems. In partnership with the Central Bank of Bahamas and Island Pay, we launched the world’s first CBDC-linked payment card, enabling people to pay for goods and services using fiat currency anywhere Mastercard is accepted,” Miebach said.

Financial Highlights

  • Net Revenue: $4.2 billion in Q1 FY21, up by 2% YoY
  • Net Profit: $1.8 billion in Q1 FY21, up by 8 % YoY
  • Total Transactions: Up by 8% YoY to $1.7 trillion worth of 54.88 billion transactions
  • Credit Transactions: $758 billion in Q1 FY21 vs $755 billion in Q1 FY20
  • Debit Transactions: $954 billion in Q1 FY21 vs $810 billion in Q1 FY20
  • Total cards: 2.8 billion total cards

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