MasterCard International says its online debit programme, Maestro, continued to show year on year double-digit growth for the three month period ending 31 December 2002. Merchant acceptance globally was up 19.8% and the number of cards issued around the world increased 16.6% to over 505 million compared to the same period in 2001.
Ann Camarillo, MasterCard's chief debit officer, says the brand's position in debit has been considerably strengthened by the integration of Europay: "Banks and consumers alike see the value of one card they can use everyday, whether at home or abroad."
With over 226 million cards in circulation and a 9% increase over year end 2001, Europe represents the largest Maestro market. The number of merchant terminals accepting the card increased by more than 25% in the fourth quarter of 2002 to nearly four million.
The growth coincides with a major agreement between MasterCard and the Ziraat Bank of Turkey to convert at least five million of its private-label Bank Karts debit cards, into international Maestro cards. This conversion will be completed in 2006, by which time the number of debit cards (including Maestro) in Turkey is projected to grow from 14 million today, to 22 million.
Other Maestro activities in Europe include the acceptance of Maestro cards across the merchant base of Allied Irish Bank, which will contribute some 31,000 new merchant terminals by mid-year 2003 and boost the total number of Maestro terminals in the Republic to over 50,000.
Asia Pacific, with over 188 million Maestro/Cirrus cards, reported a 33% increase in the number of cards from the same quarter in 2001.
MasterCard reported the breakdown of Maestro/Cirrus cards in Asia/Pacific as:
- Australia/New Zealand – 15.3 million
- Greater China – 84.6 million
- Japan/Korea – 72.8 million
- South East Asia – 15.8 million
Japan reported the highest growth in number of Maestro/Cirrus cards in Asia/Pacific in 2002, followed by Philippines, Thailand, China, Taiwan and Korea.
With close to 30 million Maestro cards in circulation in Latin America and the Caribbean, growth in the fourth quarter of 2002 was close to 13% over 2001. Card acceptance at merchant locations increased over 25% compared to the same period last year.
South Asia, Middle East and Africa (SAMEA) is another fast growing region, recording a 41% year-on-year increase in Maestro merchant terminals. Specifically, South Africa saw a 27% increase of Maestro POS terminals throughout the region, highlighting significant growth in its debit programme, while the number of Maestro cards in circulation in India was up 246.7% from the same time last year. There are over 15 million cards in circulation throughout the SAMEA region, reports MasterCard, a 22% increase over the same period in 2001.
Slower growth was reported in the United States, which witnessed a seven per cent increase in merchant terminal acceptance over the year. As of December 31, 2002, there were 38 million Maestro debit cards in circulation in the US and more than 2.1 million merchant terminals accepting Maestro.