Mastercard is the world #2 in global payment solutions, sitting some way behind Visa. Like its rival, Mastercard acts primarily as a facilitator, providing the link which allows the funds from transactions to flow between individual customers, retailers and their respective banks. It doesn't itself issue cards, but provides its primary customers - banks - with the ability to make a credit-based offering to their customers. Almost 2.2bn Mastercard cards were in circulation at the end of 2019. They made a total of 113bn transactions with a gross combined spend of $6.3 trillion. According to market-watcher The Nilson Report, Mastercard had 24% of the global credit and debit card market by transaction volumes in 2019 (to Visa's 42%) and 26% in the US, but 39% in Europe. Despite its lower market share, Mastercard claims a wider footprint than its arch-rival, with more acceptance locations across more countries, some 210 worldwide. In addition to the Mastercard brand, the company operates Maestro, the world's biggest debit payment brand with an especially strong presence in Europe, and also the Cirrus ATM network. Combined Mastercard revenues reached a record high of $16.9bn in 2019, before slipping back in Covid-impacted 2020 to $15.3bn. Net income fell 21% to $6.4bn. Michael Miebach succeeded longtime leader Ajay Banga as global CEO in 2020. Traditionally Mastercard and Visa have always been arch-rivals, jostling each other for dominance as well as for for the most prestigious marketing partnerships, for example global sporting tournaments like the World Cup or the Olympics. Mastercard spends well over $400m a year on such sponsorships. Increasingly, however, the rivals find themselves in the same corner, fighting to defend their shared territory from smaller competitors such as American Express or new challengers like Paypal. They have also faced a string of legal battles with retailers and financial institutions unhappy about their combined dominance of the credit and debit card markets, about the restrictions they impose on partnerships with other card services, and over currency conversion fees.
Capsule checked 6th October 2020
Adbrands Account Assignments track account management for the world's leading brands and companies, including details of which advertising agency handles which accounts in which countries for major markets.
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Who are the competitors of Mastercard? Mastercard's main global competitor is Visa, and to a lesser extent American Express. Regional rivals include Discover, mainly in the US; UnionPay, mainly in China; and JCB, mainly in Japan. Newer challengers include online payment services such as Paypal and Square. See Financial & Insurance Sector for other companies
Advertising expenditure of Mastercard? See ranking of Declared Advertising Costs
Historical profile information for Mastercard
Marketer Moves 7th Apr 2022: New lead marketers for North America and Asia Pacific at Mastercard. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 7th Aug 2019: Mastercard inked its biggest ever acquisition with a deal for Danish payment services provider Nets, which operates a platform for real time account-to-account or person-to-person transactions. The move is intended to protect the company for any potential shift by consumers away from traditional card-based services. The deal price is €2.85bn, or around $3.2bn.
Adbrands Social Media 22nd Mar 2018: "Oldtimer". Nostalgia and sentiment. Those two topics are indeed priceless when it comes to advertising that is designed to tug on the heart-strings. So where better to apply them than in this new campaign for Mastercard from FCB Amsterdam in which a young woman sets out to restore a classic car once owned by her father. The results might be a little hoky, but as those strings soar in the final few frames you'll still find they bring a tear to the eye. A footnote: some idioms don't translate too well into another language. Mastercard's long-standing slogan - Priceless - actually translates in Dutch as "Onbetaalbaar", which literally means "unaffordable". Mastercard. Safe. Secure. Unaffordable!
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Jul 2016: Payments platform Mastercard introduced a new logo, the first redesign in 20 years. The new design, produced by Pentagram, retains the familiar linked circles but drops uppercase in favour of sans serif lowercase. However, the change coincided with a negative ruling for the company in the first of several court cases brought by UK retailers over inflated "interchange" charges levied by Mastercard for payments made with its cards. The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal ruled that Mastercard must pay Sainsbury's £68.5m in compensation and damages. Claims from other retailers total £1.2bn, and a US-style class action suit is also being prepared on behalf of customers, on the basis that some retailers passed on the interchange fees to shoppers by raising prices. That could demand damages of as much as £19bn.
Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Feb 2016: Ads of the Week: "Ellie Goulding". You won't need to be a fan of singer Ellie Goulding to be utterly captivated by McCann London's latest "Priceless Surprise" for Mastercard, tieing in to the UK music industry's annual awards fest this week, The Brits. Ellie surprises two of her biggest fans by joining them for an unexpected live performance. A completely charming and heart-warming film. (Rather more charming than its counterpart, which features the irredeemably supercilious Mark Ronson, a man who appears to refer to himself as "we").
Adbrands Social Media 9th Apr 2015: "One More Day of Travel". Great performances from the kids in this lovely spot from McCann XBC for Mastercard. The "Priceless" campaign celebrates its 18th birthday this year. It still works.
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