Has the recession created a permanent culture of thrift in the United States?

The answer, according to Timothy H. Murphy, MasterCard's group executive of core products, is a conditional yes.

“I would say that for the foreseeable future - you can’t predict ten or twenty years out - but it would seem to me at least, the sentiment-based changes that we’re seeing will last for some significant period of time,” Murphy said in an interview Sunday.

He was speaking after a keynote speech that opened the annual ATM Debit & Prepaid Forum, hosted by SourceMedia Inc., in Las Vegas.

Such a thrift-based mentality could also have implications for companies that focus on capturing consumer spending, like MasterCard and other payments entities. But Murphy hastened to add that “you could still imagine a culture of thrift in which credit spending comes back in some degree.”

Murphy also used his speech to exhort financial institutions to become more daring in the prepaid market.

“Prepaid is no longer a niche opportunity for financial institutions,” he said. “It joins credit and debit at the core. … The time is indeed now to build out your prepaid relationships.”

MasterCard has pinned some of its hopes on prepaid, going so far as to launch a Spanish-language advertising campaign about its “Everyday Prepaid” reloadable products.

But prepaid still remains the province of mostly third-party providers, and Murphy said after his speech that convincing financial institutions to invest in the relatively nascent field remains somewhat difficult, since “some of the gift programs in the past have had a thinner profitability, so I think people are looking back at that,” he said.

“It’s going to require some of the programs in market today demonstrating value, demonstrating to financial institutions that that’s a place where we can play,” he said in the interview. “I wouldn’t say they’re beating down the door yet but there’s some interest and people are trying to get it done, they see the value.”

Robert O. Carr brought the Heartland Payment Systems Explanation Tour 2009 to Las Vegas’s Caesars Palace on Sunday.

In a keynote speech at the ATM Debit & Prepaid Forum hosted by SourceMedia Inc., Carr, Heartland’s CEO, laid out the history of its data breach and how his company handled and continues to recover from it.

 He also continued his call to action for end-to-end encryption.

“There’s no silver bullet, but end to end encryption is the best possible” solution to data breaches, he said. “The effects of a breach don’t stop a few weeks after it’s identified – the effects continue.”

Don’t ask either Murphy or Carr when U.S. cards will embrace chip-and-pin technology.

“If you ask me when chip and pin is going to come to the U.S., I’m going to dodge that question,” Murphy said, in response to an audience question after his speech. “There is no clear answer on chip and pin in the U.S.”

Carr, who is in his sixties, gave a more drastic answer in his speech: “I don’t think I’m going to be around when that happens,” he said.