Mastercard 4Q16 Earnings Call Notes

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Ajay Banga

Global economic overview

“We continue to see bright spots as well as some areas of concern in the global economy in the US. Post-election optimism remains relatively high. Consumer confidence, unemployment, wages all seem to be holding steady. It’s still too early to tell what impact any new policy proposals might have on the US or other economies. But like all of you, we’re expecting to see initiatives around taxation, regulation, infrastructure spending and trade. And in fact on regulation, you’ve all seen the recent executive order talking about taking out two regulations for every one proposed. Turning to Europe, the economic recovery is persistent in many markets throughout the prior year, throughout 2016, led by Germany. And the prospects for this coming year of 2017 seem encouraging as economic sentiment and unemployment continue to improve. The UK appears to be stable. We’re seeing continued growth in travel to the country as a result of the weaker pound, and it’s going to take a few years obviously to work through the specifics of how Brexit is implemented. So, we remain watchful of the implications of that on the UK and broadly on the EU.”

India move towards electronic forms of payment

” In India, the government has recently implemented a plan to address its parallel economy and to help drive the shift from cash to electronic forms of payment. Given the heavy reliance on cash in that economy, this is expected to soften consumer spending in the short term, but could well fuel economic growth and modernize the payment system in the long term.”

I don’t believe that the administration wants to restrict trade

“The aspects of trade, Tien-Tsin, as you know, my normal approach to trade is that I continue to believe that the United States is way too large a marketplace for companies and businesses to feel that they shouldn’t be involved with having on-soil presence and on-soil activity and frequent travel in and out by business executives alike. So, I consider the US to be too attractive for that to change dramatically. I do believe like everybody else that in the corporate world, there are a lot of us have built our business on the freer flow of cross-border trade, data and people. If that were to change over time, that would be a problem, but I don’t believe that that’s what the administration wants to do. They want to grow the economy. The economy is not going to grow without the right inputs in the right places. It may change specifics of the way trade gets enacted, but I continue to be relatively bullish on where this economy could go over the next four to five years.”

Dislocation of demonetization in India

” So, India has only 1.4 million terminals actually at the point of sale, and it tends to be a very cash dominated market. I’d say 95%-plus of the transactions in retail are cash. When the demonetization happened, the two biggest currency notes were taken out of circulation, the INR 500 and the INR 1,000 notes constituted 86% of the currency notes in circulation. That’s the shock that is referred to as what could lower consumer spending for a couple of quarters. We saw that because restrictions in cash withdrawal from banks and from ATMs were instituted as the government tried to catch up with the demand for cash. With the new notes, they were printing, those notes had to be put into the market. The ATMs had to be redesigned. Their hoppers had to be redone. Or you can just imagine the level of work in a country where the largest public sector bank has 18,000 branches, and is spread across a relatively large country. So, that’s what caused some of the dislocation…I think the Prime Minister is to be credited for his willingness to take it on, because in the medium to long term, this could be transformative for the way India’s economy operates in the recognizable formal economy, as compared to the informal economy, where it’s denied taxation and denied credit and denied insurance. I think he’s really trying to do something pretty brave here.”