MasterCard International has dipped into its talent pool to name Sheila Scarry senior vice president for U.S. debit products. She succeeds Art Kranzley Jr., who departed MasterCard for Advanta Corp. in October.

Ms. Scarry, 33, has had 12 years of marketing and sales experience with the Purchase, N.Y.-based association. Most recently she was regional senior vice president of member relations for the eastern United States.

"It's a very key position at MasterCard," said Alan J. Heuer, president of MasterCard's U.S. region. "We selected Sheila for this challenge because of the track record she's had here over 12-plus years in developing organizations and working effectively with members. We feel fortunate to have someone here that meets all the criteria we were looking for."

Ms. Scarry said her first two priorities are to increase member participation in Maestro, the on-line debit card; Cirrus, MasterCard's automated teller machine network; and MasterMoney, the off-line debit card; and to increase usage and activation of cards issued. In her previous role, she helped to secure commitments from members to join what MasterCard bills as "The Complete Debit Program."

Prior to joining MasterCard, Ms. Scarry was an analyst at Dillon Read & Co. She has a bachelor of arts degree from Fordham University.

"What you see there is an effort by MasterCard not to pick somebody who is a strategist as much as somebody who really knows the membership to try to get a larger share of that business in the MasterCard column," said David Robertson, president of The Nilson Report.

MasterCard's complement of debit cards - 5.8 million MasterMoney cards and 16.5 million Maestro cards - trails Visa U.S.A., which has 28 million Visa check off-line cards and 32 million Interlink on-line cards in the United States.

But last year, MasterCard got commitments from a number of large banks, including some that had issued Visa debit products. Among them were Wells Fargo, Chemical Bank, KeyCorp, and Harris Bank and Trust.

"A large share of the U.S. debit market is uncommitted," Mr. Heuer said. MasterCard estimates as much as 60% of automated teller machine cards issued are not committed to MasterCard or Visa.

"The debit area represents a very large opportunity for most banks to enhance their relationship with their customers and to make money."

Mr. Robertson said that even though Visa has a big lead in the debit area, the war to sign up financial institutions is not over. One factor that will contribute to upheaval this year, he said, is industry consolidation.

In some of the bank mergers - such as First Chicago and NBD, and Chemical and Chase - one partner issues Visa's debit products and the other MasterCard's. Visa U.S.A. has required bank holding companies to choose one debit brand.

However, Mr. Robertson said, "Right now you have Visa's decision to demand exclusivity of its membership going unchallenged, but that doesn't mean it will continue to be unchallenged."

If the Chemical-Chase merger goes through, observers will watch to see which association comes out on top in debit issuance. Chemical has strong MasterCard ties, with executive vice president Charles Walsh on MasterCard's board. Chase, meanwhile, has had a strong Visa affiliation.

Mr. Heuer said MasterCard is coming off double-digit growth in the last few quarters. "We feel good about our current momentum and our prospects."

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