By creating new business units to focus on deposit-access services, MasterCard International has adapted to the changing nature of the markets its member banks operate in, students of the industry say.
MasterCard unveiled the units - global deposit access and U.S. deposit access - last week, saying they reflect a strategic focus to help members enhance their deposit account relationships.
The moves are a refinement and extension of the debit card strategy, which historically took a back seat to the core credit card business.
"I think this is really part of a broader vision - for us to try to focus on our businesses more from the members' perspective," said G. Henry Mundt 3d, executive vice president for global deposit access at Purchase, N.Y.-based MasterCard.
He said most members are organized to "look at the broader range of deposit-access services as a consistent opportunity."
In fact, financial institutions have tried to keep up with consumers' desire to gain access to money in various ways, whenever they choose, said Joel Friedman, a partner with Andersen Consulting, San Francisco.
MasterCard's restructuring "is a very rational reaction to approaching the consumer," added Mr. Friedman, who has worked closely with the rival Visa organization. Visa had previously been using the "deposit access" terminology to describe debit programs.
MasterCard's new global unit integrates what had been distinct staff functions supporting Maestro, the global on-line debit program, and Cirrus System Inc., MasterCard's international automated teller machine network.
The parallel U.S. operation brings together the MasterBanking remote banking program; the Remittance Processing Service, which handles electronic bill payments; and U.S. debit services, which include Maestro, Cirrus, and the MasterMoney off-line debit card.
"All of this ties into making sure that we're providing a seamless set of products and services to address the banks' needs as we evolve into that more-remote, branchless environment," Mr. Mundt said.
David Poe, a partner with Edgar, Dunn & Co., based in London, said the coordinated deposit-access approach make sense, "to insure the consistency of the brand position across the regions." Because Cirrus and Maestro access the same checking account, "you're really dealing with the same management within the MasterCard member organizations who have responsibilities for these products."
"One of the things that are happening, particularly in Europe, is that banks are paying more and more attention to card-based products that access the key consumer relationship, which is the checking account," Mr. Poe said.
"Anything they can do, and any support they can get from the card associations to develop products that provide value-added services to that checking account, is very important to the banks."
Mr. Mundt has two senior vice presidents - Steven VanFleet and David Keenan - reporting to him, along with vice president Daniel Ciporin.
Mr. VanFleet will lead overall strategic planning and product management for Maestro and Cirrus. He will be responsible for developing new deposit- access products, enhancing existing products, managing product rules and policies, and handling compliance issues. He will continue to be general manager of Maestro International.
Mr. Keenan will be responsible for the service delivery of MasterCard's global debit brands.
Mr. Ciporin will handle marketing support for deposit-access services, including global card issuance and acceptance of Cirrus and Maestro.
Domestically, Sheila Scarry will serve as senior vice president, U.S. deposit access. She reports to Alan Heuer, president of MasterCard's U.S. region.
Ms. Scarry was appointed in January to lead the association's U.S. debit-products group, replacing Arthur Kranzley. She will be responsible for the MasterMoney, Maestro, and Cirrus in the United States, as well as MasterBanking and the Remittance Processing Service.
J. Randall Peyser, vice president, will serve as acting head of remote banking within the U.S. deposit-access unit. Mr. Peyser replaces A. Christian Fredrick, who has left MasterCard for the Dove Associates consulting firm in Boston.
"The Cirrus brand has tremendous global acceptance," Mr. Friedman pointed out. "But MasterCard has had a more difficult time with its point of sale marks, Maestro and MasterMoney. One can surmise this is an effort to bring together a more integrated product offer."