316.83 +1.06 (0.34%)
After hours: 7:29PM EST
|Bid||315.27 x 1400|
|Ask||316.15 x 800|
|Day's range||312.50 - 319.36|
|52-week range||197.66 - 327.09|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.03|
|PE ratio (TTM)||46.96|
|Earnings date||28 Jan 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||1.60 (0.49%)|
|Ex-dividend date||07 Jan 2020|
|1y target est||340.54|
Mastercard's (MA) Q4 performance is likely to have benefited from increase in gross dollar value, owing to rise in spending across various geographical markets.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The most recent retail sales data provides a glimpse into the mind of the U.S. consumer.The latest monthly retail sales report from the U.S. Census Bureau recorded December sales (excluding gasoline, automobiles and restaurants) of $384.6 billion. Compared with the prior year’s $ 360.5 billion, that’s a solid year-over-year gain of 6.7%. Sales in November 2019 were $330.2 billion for a 1.1% gain over 2018’s $325.9 billion. Average these two-monthly totals and you get a 4.1% year over year gain for the holiday-shopping period.Those are strong numbers. Delving deeper reveals several interesting data points:\-- consumer sentiment has fully recovered from the lows after the financial crisis and is back to levels that prevailed in mid-2000s;\-- sentiment is still below the frothy dot-com peak of the late 1990s, suggesting that consumers are confident about the future but not in a reckless or unsustainable way;\-- consumer debt relative to disposable income remains at the lowest level in at least four decades, indicating that there's room for them to spend more:These three data points suggest that the next few quarters of gross domestic product growth, retail sales and durable goods orders are likely to be robust.In the typical election year, these economic positives tend to benefit the White House incumbent. I will let others debate whether this is a typical election year.Two other interesting issues worth mentioning: Online sales measured by point-of-sale credit-card transactions from MasterCard’s SpendingPulse showed that e-commerce in 2019 reached all-time highs. E-commerce now accounts for 14% of U.S. retail sales and likely will continue to claim a growing piece of the pie. Worldwide, online sales have nearly tripled during the past five years from $1.3 trillion in 2014 to more than $3.5 trillion in 2019, according to Statista. Projections are for this to more than double during the next five years.One surprise from the MasterCard data is that online shopping is accelerating, rising 18.8% last year compared with 2018’s 18.4%. There are few signs online retail is slowing. If anything, the generation that grew up online doesn't think of e-commerce as anything special; it's simply retail.One other observation: Perhaps the most intriguing online retail outlet is Instagram’s Checkout. It was named 2019’s Technology of the Year by Mobile Marketer. Fashion site Glossy describes Instagram as the next big sales channel “for direct-to-consumer companies and traditional retailers alike.”More than just promoting a brand or product, Instagram is facilitating the sale of products directly to consumers. The company takes its slice of the transaction. Combine this with the lethally accurate algorithms deployed by parent company Facebook Inc. and you can imagine the sort of sales growth that might lie ahead.To give you an idea of the size of this marketplace, Instagram has more than 1 billion accounts active each month worldwide (Facebook has 2.45 billion active users). Most of them have some form of payment system, including credit cards, Venmo, PayPal or Apple Pay.So far, Instagram Checkout has been rolled out slowly since the platform introduced it in March. It has been testing product tags in posts since 2016. Again according to Glossy, tags came to “Instagram Stories” about two years later. The fashion site, quoting Instagram, reports that 130 million people tap a product tag to shop or see a price every month. Instagram is native to mobile, which is where the new generation of consumers spend most of their connected time. Although Instagram hasn't made a big splash in online retailing yet, the potential is there.To be sure, there are some inklings of problems with counterfeit goods. This has been an issue that has haunted both Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc. If Instagram wants to become a serious player in retail, it needs to nip this in the bud.Disruption doesn't sleep. Don’t be surprised if the incumbent stars of e-commerce -- the leading members of the last generation of disruptive technologies — become the new victims of creative destruction.The relative health of the American consumer makes the disruption all the more likely — and sooner rather than later.To contact the author of this story: Barry Ritholtz at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Greiff at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is chairman and chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management, and was previously chief market strategist at Maxim Group. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Exchange-traded funds that cater to environmental, social and governance principles are being pitched as a way for investors to sleep with peace of mind, but they better be prepared to wake up with something less than dreamy returns.Consider the iShares MSCI USA ESG Select Social Index Fund (SUSA), one of the oldest and largest ESG ETFs on the market. SUSA, which tracks the 100 stocks with the highest ESG ratings, has trailed the S&P 500 Index by 37 percentage points during the past 10 years.(1) (I honed in on SUSA because it has a long-term track record. Most ESG ETFs are very new.) The reason it lagged taps into one of the most important yet underreported aspects of ESG funds: surprising exclusions. While some of the stocks excluded from SUSA are obvious, such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp., some are less obvious, such as Amazon.com Inc., Netflix Inc., Ross Stores Inc. and Mastercard Inc. — all of which are up more than 1,000% during the past 10 years. Not having stocks like these is why SUSA couldn’t keep up with the overall market. Not to pile on here, but SUSA’s underperformance also came with a higher standard deviation, or level of volatility.This potential for underperfomance is why I think investors should take what I call “The Amazon Test” before buying an ESG ETF. It has two parts. The first is to simply ask whether you are willing to miss out on the next Amazon to “clean up” your portfolio. Or even better, if you want to do the leg work, compare the ESG ETF’s holdings to the appropriate broad index and comb through the differences. You may be surprised by what is included in the ETF. (In SUSA’s case, it does hold Facebook Inc. and Nike Inc., which many may find questionable.) I can guarantee investors will probably be a bit baffled.Of course it’s possible that the next Amazon is already in your ESG ETF and that the fund outperforms the market and everyone’s happy. SUSA could very well beat the market during the next 10 years. But investors need to be ready in case it doesn’t.I was curious how people would respond to this question, so I ran an informal Twitter poll and found that only a fifth of people were both interested in ESG and satisfied with missing the next Amazon. That means more than half of ESG-interested investors did not want to miss out on an Amazon, which tends to be excluded from ESG funds because of working conditions that put it on a worker-rights group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of the most dangerous employers in the U.S. Of course, not only highfliers are excluded from many ESG ETFs; so are some of the country’s most revered companies, which many people probably want to own. The best example is Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which is included in fewer ESG ETFs than Exxon and is practically excluded from all of them. It’s the second-lowest-ranked company by Sustainalytics(2) among the S&P 100 Index. Essentially, investors can have ESG or Buffett, but not both. So why is Buffett, one of the greatest investors and philanthropists the world has ever seen, not in these funds? One big reason is Berkshire’s board is only 57% independent, well below the 86% average. Buffett has signaled no intention of changing the company’s business practices. He implied the independent board is a poor metric, saying many such boards he has been on are independent on paper only, with many directors just looking for a payday and typically following the CEO’s lead. Buffett has also said he doesn’t want to burden subsidiary companies, one of which operates coal-fired plants, with unnecessary rules and costs.“We’re not going to spend the time of the people at Berkshire Hathaway Energy responding to questionnaires or trying to score better with somebody that is working on that. It’s just, we trust our managers and I think the performance is at least decent and we keep expenses and needless reporting down to a minimum at Berkshire.”Some have pushed back, saying that “surprising exclusions” are nothing new and exist in other areas such as smart-beta and theme ETFs. This is true, but there is one crucial difference: Those ETFs aren’t generally seeking to replace an investor’s entire equity portion of the portfolio. Because if the goal is to “sleep at night,” then what’s the point of putting a small allocation into an ESG ETF while still investing in other funds, like the Vanguard 500 Index Fund, which hold those “bad” companies you don’t want?(3)For those who are interested in ESG and don’t mind missing out on the next Amazon, the next part of my test is to ask whether they are willing to curb their consumption of the goods and services provided by those excluded companies. For example, are you going to continue to shop at Amazon, drive an SUV or take airplanes 10 times a year? If so, then what’s the point of not owning those stocks? You are just going to rob yourself of profits you helped create. I did an informal poll on this, too, and found only a fifth of those who were willing to miss out on Amazon were also willing to not shop there. Now, I’m not saying you need to live in the woods and eat bugs to be pure enough to be an ESG investor, but you should probably be willing to make some inconvenient choices as a consumer — because, let’s be honest, that’s where investors can truly make a company pay attention. Otherwise, a lot of this is demand trying to demonize supply to soothe its guilt and feel good inside. At the end of my little screening system here we are left with 5% of the investing world that I’d argue has the stomach and commitment to be messing around with ESG ETFs.(5) The rest either just don’t want ESG or are slacktivists — people who want to feel as if they are doing something but are unwilling to make any inconvenient sacrifices such as lagging the market or curbing parts of their lifestyles. These investors should probably just stick with owning the broad market. And while 5% may seem like a small amount, it would actually be a pretty solid base of investors for these ETFs. To convert that into dollars, 5% of ETF assets would equate to $200 billion, a respectable category. Currently, ESG ETFs have only about one-tenth of that amount. And yet there are about 100 products on the market. That’s $200 million per ETF, which is five to 10 times below the average of many other popular areas. Supply has so far outpaced the hype and demand in a way that’s never been seen in the ETF market.And it doesn’t look as if product proliferation will be slowing anytime soon. BlackRock’s Larry Fink recently announced a doubling of the company’s ESG ETF lineup, which means due diligence will be that much more cumbersome. And while this may come off as a bit of a downer to all the excitement around ESG, that’s not my intention. I’m not anti-ESG at all, but I am anti-nasty surprise. I just want to help make sure investors wake up with peace of mind, too.(1) SUSA has also lagged since inception in 2005 by 33% and by 4% over the past 5 years, though it is outperforming by 1% over the past year. And to show I'm not cherry-picking, the other veteran ESG ETF, the iShares MSCI KLD 400 Social ETF (DSI), has lagged the market by 30 percentage points over the past 10 years.(2) An equal-weighted basket of the 20 stocks in the S&P 100 with the lowest Sustainalytics Ranking outperformed the S&P 500 Index by 41% over the past seven years. Sustainalytics is an ESG research and ratings platform whose scores are used on the Bloomberg Terminal.(3) Now, if investors are seeking ESG ETFs because they think there is some premium to capture that can add alpha to their portfolios and they are only allocating a little, then there is less need for this test (although you can never go wrong with looking under the hood of a fund). But largely, ESG ETFs are being pitched and talked about as a “sleep at night” replacement, or a way to support companies that align with investors’ values.(4) Add in the fact that most people don’t know what ESG even stands for, let alone how the scoring systems (which all vary by the way) work, and you get a situation where the product proliferation and hype has far outpaced the education needed to use them.To contact the author of this story: Eric Balchunas at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Eric Balchunas is an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence focused on exchange-traded funds.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Investors continue to pour funds into passive investment products that aim to replicate the performance of benchmark indexes. They’re also increasingly keen that their money gets used to influence corporations to stop damaging the planet and improve social inclusiveness. Unfortunately, many of the products designed to achieve both objectives currently fall short on the goal of responsible investing.The shift in emphasizing environmental, social and governance issues puts pressure on the index providers to come up with benchmarks that more accurately reflect the concerns investors are attempting to express by allocating capital to ESG investment products. Currently, though, even dedicated ESG indexes have shortcomings that many investors are probably unaware of.The U.S. Vegan Climate exchange-traded fund, for example, tracks a $124 billion index created by Beyond Investing that excludes companies engaged in a laundry list of potentially harmful activities, including animal exploitation, human rights abuses and fossil fuels extraction. While the $14 million ETF’s top five holdings — Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Facebook Inc., Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. — may all meet those criteria, they’re hardly the first names that spring to mind when thinking about the words vegan or climate. And there are many other examples.BlackRock Inc.’s announcement this month that it plans to prioritize sustainability in its investment decisions highlights the issue confronting index trackers. With two-thirds of its $7.4 trillion of assets managed passively, the world’s biggest asset manager acknowledged that the bulk of its cash isn’t available to pursue those goals. Harnessing that firepower will become increasingly important if the passive industry is to meet the ESG aspirations of its growing customer base.It’s even likely to radically change the industry, and sooner than people realize. To that point, Hiro Mizuno, the chief investment officer of Japan’s $1.6 trillion Global Pension Investment Fund, says the days are over when it’s enough for passive fund managers to compete simply on providing the lowest tracking errors at the lowest cost. Now they have to add value too. “The main battlefield among our passive managers is going to be in the stewardship area.” he told the Financial Times last month. BlackRock is far from alone in shifting to a more moral investing stance. A survey of 300 institutional investors, financial advisers and fund managers that use ETFs published on Monday by Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. showed that almost three-quarters of respondents expect to increase the amount allocated to ESG investments in the coming year.European participants in the BBH survey ranked ESG-themed products as the ETF category they would most like to see more supply of, while Chinese investors ranked the sector as their second most desired area of expansion, along with more funds designed to track core indexes.Money is flooding into the sector. ESG-designated assets were the fastest-growing category of ETFs listed on Deutsche Boerse AG’s Xetra market last year, with investments more than tripling to more than 23 billion euros ($25 billion). Globally, ESG ETFs have enjoyed net inflows for 52 consecutive weeks, taking in $30 billion in the past year and garnering almost $3.4 billion in the week ended Jan. 20, according to data compiled by Bloomberg LP, which competes in selling index data to investors.There are two main routes whereby ETF providers can meet the implicit demands of clients allocating money to passively managed ESG products. The first is to use their collective muscle to prompt index providers to increase the granularity of the benchmarks used to shape asset allocations. Improving the discrimination of ESG indexes would go a long way to ensuring investors aren’t being hoodwinked into products that aren’t as green or socially savvy as they first appear.The second is trickier. Excluding companies deemed to be damaging the environment or being socially irresponsibly isn’t enough to move the needle. Engaging with the boards of those firms and using the clout of a shareholding to force them to change their ways is much more effective.But that costs money, and the success of the ETF model has been founded in large part on its ability to charge ultra-low fees. If BlackRock and its peers are serious about taking their social responsibilities more seriously, investors will have to pay for the privilege — and the sellers of index trackers will need to be honest about the increased cost of that kind of activism. Let’s hope the buyers of the products decide it’s a price worth paying to do good.To contact the author of this story: Mark Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Mark Gilbert is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering asset management. He previously was the London bureau chief for Bloomberg News. He is also the author of "Complicit: How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Mastercard's (MA) Q4 earnings are likely to have benefited from higher switched transactions, increase in cross-border volume and gross dollar volume, and gains from acquisitions.
Mastercard and The Rockefeller Foundation today announced data.org as a platform for data science for social impact partnerships.
MasterCard (MA) doesn't possess the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely earnings beat in its upcoming report. Get prepared with the key expectations.
(Bloomberg) -- Telecom giant Vodafone Group Plc left the Libra Association, becoming the latest company to exit the Facebook-led group trying to create a new global cryptocurrency.The Libra Association, which was finalized last October, once expected to have as many as 28 total members when the project was announced in June. It is now down to 20 following earlier departures from Visa Inc., Mastercard Inc. and others that had committed to the project but then left before the group signed an official charter.“Vodafone is no longer a member of the Libra Association,” Dante Disparte, head of policy and communication for the association, said in a statement. “Although the makeup of the Association members may change over time, the design of Libra’s governance and technology ensures the Libra payment system will remain resilient. The Association is continuing the work to achieve a safe, transparent, and consumer-friendly implementation of the Libra payment system.”The idea for Libra -- a global, digital currency intended to make cross-border money transfers as easy as sending a text message -- has faced opposition at every turn. Facebook, the world’s largest social network, first proposed the idea last June, along with a number of high-profile partners. Many of them are no longer involved, and Facebook has pledged to appease all U.S. regulators before launching the currency. It’s unclear how long that might take.Coindesk earlier reported news of Vodafone’s departure from the group.In a statement, U.K.-based Vodafone said it plans to focus on its own digital payments efforts instead. Vodafone partly owns Safaricom Plc, which operates the M-Pesa mobile-payments app in Kenya, where more people keep their money on their phones rather than in banks. The text message-based app is used by about 35 million people globally to spend, borrow and send money to friends and family.“We will continue to monitor the development of the Libra Association and do not rule out the possibility of future co-operation,” Vodafone spokesman Steve Shepperson-Smith said.\--With assistance from Jenny Surane and Scott Moritz.To contact the reporter on this story: Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Robin AjelloFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- As Visa Inc., Mastercard Inc. and American Express Co. prepare to enter China for the first time, one of their biggest competitive threats will come from a company that doesn’t issue credit cards.Jack Ma’s Ant Financial, already the biggest player in China’s $27 trillion payments market, is leveraging its ubiquitous Alipay mobile app to mount a rapid expansion into consumer lending.Instead of issuing cards, Ant allows customers to borrow with a few taps on their smartphones. The loans are wildly popular among China’s army of mobile-savvy shoppers, who often lack formal credit histories but generate enough financial data via Alipay for Ant to make informed decisions on whether they’ll default. The company’s outstanding consumer loans may swell to nearly 2 trillion yuan ($290 billion) by 2021, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts, more than triple the level two years ago.“The consumer loans business has been growing at breakneck speed, but there are so many untapped users,” Huang Hao, president of Ant’s digital finance operations, said in a phone interview outlining the company’s strategy.Ant’s push into China’s 10 trillion yuan market for short-term consumer loans will make it an even more formidable challenger to U.S. card companies, which are counting on the world’s second-largest economy as a source of long-term growth.Many Chinese consumers and businesses are ditching credit cards as Ant and its main competitor Tencent Holdings Ltd. make app-based spending, borrowing and investing increasingly user-friendly. In a Nielsen survey of more than 3,000 Chinese people born after 1990, nearly 61% said they use online consumer credit while only 45.5% had a credit card.“For credit card companies coming to China, the biggest challenge is how to attract people,” said Zennon Kapron, managing director of Singapore-based consulting firm Kapronasia. “A lot of Chinese millennials are digital first, used to using Alipay as their first platform for payments, loans and wealth management.”The card giants appear to be moving forward with their China plans despite the headwinds. AmEx’s application to start a bank card clearing business has been accepted by the country’s central bank, while Mastercard has called China a “vital” market and Visa has said it’s working closely with regulators for a license.As part of its phase-one trade agreement with the U.S., China said it won’t take longer than 90 days to consider applications from providers of electronic-payments services. Regulators are opening the industry to foreign competition amid an unprecedented push to give international firms access to the country’s financial sector.Read more: Visa, Mastercard, AmEx Win Easier Access to China MarketIn response to questions from Bloomberg on the threat posed by Ant, Visa said it sees significant potential to support the growth and evolution of digital payments in China and is approaching the market with a long-term focus. Mastercard said it would continue to work with regulators to advance its application and is committed for the long haul. AmEx declined to comment.Ant, an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. that’s widely expected to pursue an initial public offering in coming years, started its consumer-credit business in 2015. Its loans tend to be small: half the users of Ant’s Huabei (translation: “just spend”) service borrow less than $290 and usually pay it back within months.The Hangzhou-based company, which declined to disclose the value of its outstanding loans, keeps delinquencies in check by tapping into a trove of data amassed by Alipay and Alibaba.Many customers have been using the payments and e-commerce platforms for years -- handing over details from ID cards to addresses and spending habits. Once Ant extends a loan, it can track how the money is spent via Alipay. The result is a bad-debt ratio stands at about 1%, below the 1.24% national average for credit cards.Read more: China’s Gen Z, With Little Income, Gets Hooked on Easy CreditAnt keeps some of the loans on its own balance sheet, charging interest rates that range from about 5% to 18%, according to Huang. But most are passed on for a fee to banks and other financial institutions.“We’re set to continue to work with more banks and finance companies,” Huang said. “We are, at the end of the day, a platform.”The risk for Visa, Mastercard and AmEx is that a swathe of Chinese consumers and businesses will view credit cards as obsolete. About 60% of borrowers on Ant’s Huabei platform don’t have one, and many smaller merchants don’t accept cards because they find it’s cheaper and easier to use Alipay or Tencent’s WePay. The former, with more than 900 million users, is Alibaba’s preferred payments provider.“The competitive landscape is full of local players,” said Hang Qian, a partner at Oliver Wyman, a consultancy. “The key challenges are how to promote small merchants to accept credit cards and how to get e-wallet users to switch.”\--With assistance from Alfred Liu.To contact the reporter on this story: Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Patterson at email@example.com, Jodi SchneiderFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Mastercard today announced the launch of the Priceless Planet Coalition, a platform to unite corporate sustainability efforts and make meaningful investments to preserve the environment.
(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. The biggest U.S. card companies just moved a step closer to gaining access to China’s $27 trillion payments market.China said it won’t take longer than 90 days to consider applications from providers of electronic-payments services such as Mastercard, Visa and American Express Co., according the text of a landmark trade agreement with the U.S. It should be an especially welcome reprieve for Mastercard and its partner NetsUnion Clearing Corp., which set up a venture in March that is still awaiting approval from the People’s Bank of China to begin operations.“China is a vital market for us,” Seth Eisen, a spokesman for Mastercard, said Wednesday in an emailed statement. “We continue to make every effort to secure the requisite license to be able to operate in China domestically. This deal is a step forward in that process.”The move shows progress in the U.S. payment networks’ battle for access to mainland China, which has been a point of contention in the trade dispute. Officials from the world’s two largest economies finalized a bevy of deals before signing off on the first phase of a sweeping trade agreement, which they have sought to cast as a major breakthrough in relations.Mastercard Chief Executive Officer Ajay Banga and Visa CEO Al Kelly were in attendance at Wednesday’s festivities at the White House for the trade deal announcement. In a statement, Visa said it sees potential to help further develop digital payments in China through the 2022 Olympics in Beijing and that it’s approaching entry into the country “with a long-term focus.”“Visa is working closely with the Chinese government, including the People’s Bank of China, throughout the application process for a bank card clearing institution license,” the company said in the statement, welcoming the signing of the trade agreement.China in June 2015 allowed foreign bank-card clearing providers to obtain licenses by setting up units or acquiring a local company, ending a monopoly by state-run China UnionPay Co. But progress has since been slow for Visa and Mastercard, the world’s largest payment networks. American Express cleared a key hurdle in early January when regulators accepted its application to start a bank-card clearing business with a Chinese partner.“We’re pleased with the progress we’re making to become the first foreign network to receive a clearing and settlement license to operate in mainland China,” Leah Gerstner, a spokeswoman for AmEx, said in a statement. “We will continue to work through the regulatory approval process through our joint venture in China.”As part of Wednesday’s agreement, the U.S. also pledged not to discriminate against China UnionPay, or CUP, or other Chinese electronic payment services.Mastercard and Visa have long complained that their delayed entrance into China means they’ll be pitting themselves against large domestic players in a market that’s seen mobile payments explode in recent years. Mobile transactions topped 190 trillion yuan ($27 trillion) in China in 2018, making it the world’s largest such market, according to iResearch. Ant Financial’s Alipay and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat Pay are the dominant mobile payments firms.They won’t be starting from nothing. Mastercard and Visa have long worked with Chinese banks to slap their brands on cards to facilitate transactions that consumers make outside China. But Wednesday’s announcement means the networks will now have a chance to compete for those cardholders’ domestic spending as well.China had 8.2 billion bank cards in circulation at the end of September, with 90% of them debit cards.(Updates with Visa comment in sixth paragraph, AmEx comment in eighth.)\--With assistance from Jenny Surane and David Scheer.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Lucille Liu in Beijing at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Candice Zachariahs at email@example.com, ;Alan Goldstein at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jonas Bergman, Dan ReichlFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Visa Inc. grew into one of the world’s most valuable financial companies by serving as the pipes that help connect banks and merchants.Now, it’s making a major bet on doing the same for data between banks and financial startups.Visa agreed to pay $5.3 billion for Plaid, a fintech firm that connects popular apps like Venmo to customers’ data in the established banking system. The deal caps a meteoric rise for Plaid and aims to keep fueling Visa’s own ascent, which has seen its stock triple in the past five years. The sale price is double Plaid’s $2.65 billion valuation in a 2018 funding round.Plaid’s developer tools help power a range of popular financial apps -- such as Venmo, Coinbase Inc. and Acorns Grow Inc. -- by channeling the banking data they need for their apps and websites. Founded in 2012, the firm now has more than 200 million accounts linked on its platform, according to an investor presentation. That access underscores the demand from consumers to send their data to services that can move funds between accounts or into cryptocurrencies, give advice on personal finances or reimburse a friend after brunch.About a quarter of people with a U.S. bank account have used Plaid to connect to the roughly 11,000 financial institutions it works with, the companies said. At times, that’s put Plaid at the center of tensions between fintech disruptors and banks, which have expressed concerns about security and sometimes locked the outside parties out.Data Access“We don’t see changing Plaid’s model, we see helping them accelerate their growth,” Visa Chief Executive Officer Al Kelly said on a conference call about the way Plaid earns its fees.But the way data is shared probably will change, Visa President Ryan McInerney said in an interview. Visa will work with banking partners including JPMorgan Chase & Co. to ensure fintechs are collecting consumers’ data “appropriately,” he said. “We have deep relationships with most financial institutions and we intend to evolve” Plaid’s data practices, he said. As a benefit, fintechs may get more reliable connectivity.Plaid has attracted investments from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and venture capitalist Mary Meeker. Visa and Mastercard Inc. also are investors in the company, Plaid said last year in a blog post. Visa said it expects the takeover to close in the next three to six months with the acquisition adding 80 to 100 basis points to revenue growth in fiscal 2021.Longer-term, the deal will let Visa play a greater role in the financial industry’s tech-driven evolution, Kelly told analysts on a call. “We see this giving us options and growth potentials at least for the next decade,” he said.In 2018, Plaid had talks with Jack Dorsey’s Square Inc. about an acquisition that would have valued Plaid at about $1 billion. In early 2019, the firm announced that it was buying one of its competitors, Quovo, in a deal valued at about $200 million.Both Visa and Mastercard have been seeking to move beyond card payments in recent years to extend their rapid revenue growth. Mastercard bought a payments platform owned by Nets for $3.2 billion last year, using its biggest-ever acquisition to move further into so-called account-to-account payments.Plaid has struck data-sharing agreements with major banks including JPMorgan and Wells Fargo & Co. over the past few years, seeking to head off battles over whether consumers should give up their bank username and password to share data with financial applications.Visa’s move follows a year of frenzied consolidation in the fintech industry, as old-guard companies increasingly seek to compete with fast-growing startups. In November, PayPal Holdings Inc. snapped up online coupon company Honey Science Corp. for $4 billion. Also last year, Charles Schwab acquired of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. for $26 billion, and Fiserv Inc., Fidelity National Information Services Inc. and Global Payments Inc. did a series of major deals in payment processing.Plaid’s takeover by Visa -- seen by some fintech disruptors as part of the more traditional banking industry -- will be watched closely by Silicon Valley for any signs that more consolidation is coming. Monday’s announcement included comments from JPMorgan and PayPal welcoming the merger.(Updates with comments from Visa’s president on data policies in the seventh paragraph)\--With assistance from Anne VanderMey.To contact the reporters on this story: Julie Verhage in New York at email@example.com;Jenny Surane in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael J. Moore at email@example.com, ;Molly Schuetz at firstname.lastname@example.org, David Scheer, Dan ReichlFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2020 Bloomberg L.P.