Consumers' changing spending habits coming out of the recession present payments companies with an opportunity to deliver new products and services, a MasterCard Inc. executive says.

Chris McWilton, the Purchase, N.Y., company's president of U.S. markets, said during a keynote speech at the 22nd annual Card Forum and Expo in Orlando that in this economic environment people are more leery of going into debt, and they want help in maintaining their budgets.

"Consumers today want to control their spending, and it's up to us to make it easier for them to do so," he said. Issuers should find ways to "add value to the system so consumers are not financially harmed," he said.

McWilton also challenged Congress' notion that interchange unfairly sides with issuers at the expense of merchants. He said MasterCard believes its average interchange rate of 1.85% represents a balance for both sides of card transactions, even though revenue from interchange for issuers recently has not kept up with rising chargeoff rates.

An amendment the Senate approved last week to the financial reform bill aims to regulate debit interchange rates. McWilton said it would throw the system out of balance.

McWilton spoke Sunday at the conference.

The conference was sponsored by SourceMedia, the publisher of American Banker.