MasterCard Inc. continued to grow its debit share with the addition of roughly 2 million debit cards issued by Sovereign bank.

Sovereign, a unit of Banco Santander SA, plans to switch that many debit cards to MasterCard from Visa Inc., according to an analysts. Also, in third quarter, China UnionPay, the country's sole, government owned payment network, entered an agreement for online access to MasterCard's network

"Each of these deals is a hard-fought deal," said Ajay Banga, the company's chief executive, said in a conference call. "It's just good old hard work, [that's] what we bring to the party."

Analysts said these agreements are just incremental, and only begin to chip away at Visa's position in the payments business. Sovereign, for example, is a small win for MasterCard relative to its loss of Washington Mutual in 2008.

"I wouldn't say this is a big trend," said Thomas C. McCrohan, managing director for equity research at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia. "It's such a commanding lead that Visa has in the debit card side."

MasterCard's net income rose 14.6% to $518 million for the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30, from the same period last year. Its net revenues rose 5.1%, to $1.43 billion. In early morning trading Thursday, MasterCard's stock price rose 2.97% to $246.09.

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