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MasterCard, Inc.'s (MA) CEO Ajaypal Singh Banga on Q1 2014 Earnings - Call Transcript

So it's a mix of all those things. And to me, the last few periods of months when this entire issue with Target happened actually has opened a whole new set of discussions around EMV and chip and signature and PIN and tokenization, and we think that we represent a good thought process in that space. And so all these things put together I think are helping us win business. Now, we don't win every deal we bid for, don't get me wrong. These are still going to be singles and doubles. But I said that a year or two ago. But we're doing them consistently and steadily, and we'll win some, we won't win the others. But that's one of the ways for us to rebuild our position in the consumer credit business in the U.S. In addition to what we're doing with our bank partners, where we are little by little winning deals in that growth areas of their credit book too. So it's kind of a mixed bag of what we're doing. I wouldn't put it all down on any one silver bullet. I wish life was that simple, but it ain't.

<Q - Dan Perlin - RBC Capital Markets LLC>: Thank you.

Operator: And our next question comes from Tien-tsin Huang from JPMorgan. Go right ahead, sir.

<Q - Tien-tsin Huang - JPMorgan Securities LLC>: Okay, great. Thanks. Just a follow-on to that last question. On the Target front, I'm curious did your EMV solution cause you to win that, or were there other factors behind it? And then as a follow on or bigger picture question, do you think this EMV push could actually drive some brand flips? Thanks.

<A - Ajay Banga - MasterCard, Inc.>: Tien-tsin, you're going to have to ask Target why they gave us all the business, but at the end of the day, again I believe it is a mix of things. And I wouldn't rely overly on any one thing, because I don't think any merchant or any bank goes based on any one item. It's a mix of things we bring to the party that allows us to win. And then other times we will lose because we don't bring the right mix to that party. So I've kind of got my feet firmly on the ground about this issue.

We've got two of the largest retailers in the U.S., between Walmart and Sam's on the one end and Target now, but it's a win one by one at a time. So I wouldn't conclude too much either one way or the other unless you ask Target and they give you a different answer.

We're just excited very be their partner because I've seen them, having gone through what they've gone through, their desire to really make a big difference, and that's useful for somebody like us who also is trying to grow in that space. So that's kind of what's going on in these wins. Will you get a chance to get more flips? I don't know yet. I honestly don't know. I'm still focused on the singles and doubles and just keeping my head down and trying to win deals.

<A - Barbara Gasper - MasterCard, Inc.>: Next question please, operator.

Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Chris Donat from Sandler O'Neill. Go right ahead, sir.

<Q - Chris Donat - Sandler O'Neill & Partners LP>: Good morning. Thanks for taking the question. Wanted to ask a follow-up on the Target and the chip and PIN enablement. Is that something that in the United States chip and PIN isn't - entering PINs is not something I think U.S. consumers are comfortable doing. So is this more giving Target the optionally that if consumers do want that level of security, they have it, or is it blanket for everything? Can you just help us understand where that fits in?

<A - Ajay Banga - MasterCard, Inc.>: Sure. Sure. The whole EMV migration is going to depend a little bit on the manner in which this rolls out. The chip cards will definitely be coming in. I mean, look, a number of issuers are already issuing chip cards for their overseas travel. And my number may be wrong in the head, it's a month or two old, but I do recollect somewhere between 6 million and 8 million cards, and I might be a little off the number, already issued that are chip-enabled by banks to individuals who travel. I personally use those as well. Our entire corporate card portfolio in MasterCard for our employees is chip-enabled. In some cases, it's chip and PIN like our corporate card, and in others like my personal card, it's chip and signature.

You'll find that different models of this will emerge over a period of time, depending on the adoption of PIN terminals at the point of sale, depending on the banks' concerns about different kinds of losses in their loss book and the advantages and disadvantages of those. And then finally and most importantly, it will depend on consumer behavior. And so it's a mix of those three. And in all these cases, while we are going to enable chip and PIN, as you know we've even incented for people to have chip and PIN, but at the end of the day, we will work with what works in that environment. And that's what we're trying to do.

<A - Barbara Gasper - MasterCard, Inc.>: Next question, operator.

Operator: And our next question comes from Jason Kupferberg from Jefferies. Go right ahead.

<Q - Jason Kupferberg - Jefferies LLC>: Thank you, guys. Ajay, just hoping you could just drill a little bit more into the Russia legislative process to the extent you guys have some insight into some of the milestones or next steps. I think you said it'll probably be a multi-month process until it fully plays out. So if you can help us understand that a little bit. And in conjunction with that, just how are you guys just sort of probability weighting some of these I guess worst-case scenarios if some of these more onerous provisions actually become law. I mean does it feel more like that's just kind of some saber rattling, or is it felt to be a very serious threat of passage into law?

<A - Ajay Banga - MasterCard, Inc.>: Jason, I think that the whole Russia situation is all very serious, both at a geopolitical level and in our own small way. I don't think this is a saber rattling situation any longer. I think this is going to be tough to work for almost everybody, governments and companies, over the next few months or periods of time. It might last longer than that in one way or the other. That's just me and my personal opinion. As far as we're concerned as a company, what we've seen in the recent legislation that got approved by the Duma and then by the upper house, but hasn't at least until this morning received the signature of the president. But I'm assuming that's a matter of time. And somewhere over the next few days, that will probably happen. For all I know, it could be happening now. And therefore I assume that that legislation will get enacted.

Two of its provisions that are really interesting and complicated are the ones that I picked on when speaking, and Martina picked on a little too. One of those has to do with the on-soil requirement, and the definition of on-soil obviously will depend - the devil is in details of what constitutes on-soil versus what constitutes not being there. Is it just a question of data moving, is it a question of clearing, is it a question of authorizing, is it a question of settlement, is it clearing, authorizing, and settlement? There's a gazillion different - and gazillion's a technical term, but there's a heck of a lot of these different permutations and combinations that we are working our way through. I actually don't have clarity on that yet, because a lot will depend on the dialogue with the Central Bank of Russia, which will establish the rules and the processes by which the legislation actually gets implemented on the ground.

My sense is that could take anywhere between, if done rapidly, 60 days to longer than that. Given that Russia clearly feels that they need to get something done quickly, I would expect they will make some energetic efforts to get it done quickly rather than later. It was in that context, we came around to the belief that the limitation or the impact in 2014 will be small, which Martina has factored into our estimate of our revenue growth for the year, which is why one of the reasons why even though our first quarter did a little better than we thought we're still sticking around with the guidance we gave you earlier for the year as a whole.

Now if Russia doesn't become as onerous on that or something else changes, then life will change. But right now we're dealing with these imponderables and we didn't want to not acknowledge the imponderables, but at the same time tell you that in our head there is some check and balance on that system bringing us back to the guidance we already gave you earlier in the year. That's kind of how we are thinking about it.

There is another very onerous element in the legislation which has to do with the provision of collateral that will be required if somebody is considered to be a foreign payments player. Now, what's foreign, what's domestic, how do you become more domestic, does on-soil with clearing authorization and settlement make you more domestic? Is it something else that makes you more domestic? Not clear. So I don't know all that yet. I worry about all this because I consider myself to be a worrier and a paranoid guy about some of these things, but I don't know the answer yet. So, however, I don't think that will impact us directly in a financial sense as hard as could some other elements of this.

Now the third element of this is how our consumers and the market economy in Russia are behaving. In truth, the Russian economy was already slowing over the last couple of years. That's public knowledge. And we could see it in our data where we went down from very high growth rates in transactions and revenue a couple of years ago. Even though we've been growing share in Russia over the last few years, our growth rate was reducing, you know reducing but still very attractive in that sense. What we have seen in the first quarter as Martina told you was really no direct impact. People were doing what they had to do. I guess that's how it would be.

Remember that the sanctions of all the banks, including the more recent ones, impact less than 1% of the cards we've issued. So in a day-to-day sense, people are still buying their stuff, and what we are seeing changed, however, which is about to happen, is some cross-border activity, people going in, people coming out. That I expect would happen when tensions increase in an area, and I expect that to be the first impact even going out further as the Russian economy continues to get impacted by whatever goes on in the geopolitics and the reactions of the United States and Europe and other countries.

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