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Mastercard announced the launch of new rewards offerings for World and World Elite cardholders that could help increase spend on the network and shift the way providers approach rewards.
Business Insider Intelligence
Beginning this summer, these cardholders will gain access to several new offerings from merchants like Fandango, Lyft, and Postmates, as well as cell phone insurance and identity theft protection.
Here’s what it means: Eligible Mastercard customers will now have extra incentive to keep their Mastercard-branded products top-of-wallet.
- Rewards are the top driver of primary card status. A Business Insider Intelligence study found that rewards offerings are the primary reason that customers select their most-used card. For context, members of our panel tend to be more affluent and tech-savvy than the general population, making their responses an especially sensitive indicator of future trends in tech and commerce. Mastercard EVP of Core Products for North America Amnah Ajmal told Business Insider Intelligence the firm is focusing on partnerships to "redefine the user experience" of a rewards card, which could make Mastercard’s new program popular for several reasons: For one, bonus rewards for shopping online and discounts on ride-hailing were two of the top five features that would convince respondents to select a credit card. Further, offerings are instantly redeemable, rather than points-based, which could increase instant gratification and make rewards feel more worthwhile, per Ajmal.
- Incentives could increase spend and accelerate Mastercard’s growth.By pushing users to pay with their credit cards in new categories, like bill payment, through incentives, Mastercard could accelerate its spend, which hit $1.55 trillion (a 14% annual growth rate) in Q4 2018. These benefits could be particularly attractive to "affluent, digital-savvy, and urban" users, including millennials and Gen Zers, per Ajmal — two segments that are valuable to networks because of increased spending (affluent) and long runways for penetration (younger users).
The bigger picture: A network-centric rewards model could help reduce pressure on issuers as credit card return on assets (ROA) ticks down.
Mastercard’s offering could ultimately make rewards more lucrative for issuers. Demand for credit is hitting record post-recession highs, which has led to immense competition in the space and surging rewards spending at issuers.
Though these are helping to attract customers, they’re also eating into ROA, which has forced issuers to look for ways to cut or offset costs without dissatisfying users by eliminating rewards. Mastercard’s program could be a new way to limit rewards expenses, while also growing the value proposition for users in demand of exciting new features — which could lure issuers as they continue to evolve their suite of products and search for partners.
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