Ajay Banga (pictured), MasterCard CEO, said the recent debate on introducing fees for digital or mobile wallets was too focused on the revenue impact.
There has been a “lot of noise” around so-called staged digital wallet operator fees but it was the “wrong noise”, said Banga.
Banga was answering a question from a Nomura analyst during a conference call for MasterCard’s first quarter 2013 results.
Later Visa CEO Charlie Scharf fielded a question on the same subject during a call for Visa’s Q2, 2013 results.
The issue for MasterCard was less about the potential economic impact, which was small, and more about a matter of principle, said the MasterCard chief.
The credit card firm plans to introduce a new fee for staged digital wallets offered by the likes of PayPal and Google. A staged wallet retains some data about users and transactions rather than forwarding to the likes of MasterCard. This data is potentially valuable in advertising terms.
Last month Visa’s Scharf suggested it too might introduce a fee but the credit card giant swiftly played down the suggestion.
Scharf confirmed there were no plans at present for a fee during an analyst call this week but did say the company was thinking about changes to the current model for digital wallets.
“It is not something we are currently contemplating but we are actually thinking through what has changed in the ecosystem and how we have to react to that,” he said. He also commented that Visa is “thinking about the right way to restructure the ecosystem in a way that works for everyone……”
During MasterCard’s results, Banga gave an update about its digital wallet initiative called Masterpass, a revamp of its previous initiative that it announced at this year’s Mobile World Congress.
Masterpass is now available in three markets – Australia, Canada and the US. There are 100 merchants in the US offering Masterpass capability, mentioned Banga. The wallet is on track for its UK launch by the end of summer. Nine other countries are due to join during 2013, making 13 in total by end of the year. This is in line with the schedule announced in Barcelona.