MasterCard expects big growth from 'big data' insights

Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:22am EDT
 
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By Emma Thomasson

BERLIN (Reuters) - MasterCard Inc, the world's second-largest debit and credit card company, sees business booming from selling data to retailers, banks and governments on spending patterns found in the payments it processes, a top executive told Reuters.

MasterCard, which handles payments for 2 billion cardholders and tens of millions of merchants, uses that information to generate real-time data on consumer trends, available more quickly that regular government statistics.

"It is an incredibly fast growing area for us," Ann Cairns, who heads MasterCard's business outside North America, said in an interview, stressing that the company respects cardholder privacy, using anonymous data rather than personal information.

MasterCard does not give figures for its information services products but "other revenues", which include the sale of data, grew 22 percent in the first quarter of 2014 to $341 million, outpacing the growth of total revenue dominated by payments processing, which rose 14 percent to $2.177 billion.

Cairns said clients for the data include retailers, banks and governments, with MasterCard tailoring it to their needs.

"Retailers are fantastic at using the data they have available about how people shop in their store, how their inventory turns over, but what they don't know is what happens outside their store," she said. "The data we've got is ubiquitous across the whole market. We can help retailers see what they need to do to capture more sales."

Cairns, 57, a statistician by training who joined MasterCard in 2011 after helping manage the disposal of Lehman Brothers assets in Europe, revels in the insights real-time card data can provide, such as London's popularity as the world's top travel destination and a rise in spending on experiences such as eating out or going on holiday rather than shopping in stores.

MasterCard has recorded a spike in spending in Brazil on groceries and a drop in spending on luxury goods as the price of food has risen ahead of the World Cup, she said, the kind of insight valued by companies such as Nike and Adidas that are hoping to sell $300 soccer boots during the competition.   Continued...

 
A MasterCard logo is seen on a door outside a restaurant in New York, February 3, 2010.  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton