Mastercard looks to ‘big data’ sales leap

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MasterCard, 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 said.

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

“It is an incredibly fast growing area for us,” Ann Cairns, who heads MasterCard’s business outside North America, said, 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 per cent in the first quarter of 2014 to $341m (£203.48m), outpacing the growth of total revenue dominated by payments processing, which rose 14 per cent to $2.177bn.

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.