The moderately recent IPOs of MasterCard and Visa have had a profoundly different effect on the two companies presence in Europe. While Visa seperated out it's EU business into an independent association, MasterCard's has slowly had its powers sucked away
by the dominant US HQ.
Having been recently made redundant from MasterCard's European headquarters in Belgium (as one of about 40 or so let go in April) I'm dismayed to read headlines today announcing that they're letting another 130 go from the remaining 600 employees (Read
here if your Dutch is good!).
The article blames the closing down of the European network in favour of a global one, despite the fact that this project has been ongoing since 2001 and currently only employs a handful of people. And herein lies the question, when a company, such as MasterCard
is making increasing profits in Europe despite the 'downturn' and 'credit crisis', it is surely bad for European representation in the company for them to lower headcount by 25%. especially when European revenues account for over a third of their business.
I've got to admit that before this I never really saw the need for the European Debit card system that the ECB keeps trying to push, but given that MasterCard, owners of the Maestro brand, seem intent on reducing and reducing their European presence, perhaps
the time is right for a Euro player to ensure that European interests are better represented.
Aah, but VPay I hear you cry - I'd be interested to hear from anyone that has a card ;-)