MasterCard Exec: “Cash Is The Currency Of Crime”
We often hear MasterCard speak of their “world beyond cash” vision, but what does that really mean?
According to Carlos Menendez, group executive, Global Debit for MasterCard Worldwide, the answer is simple:
“Fundamentally, a world beyond cash is a safer and smarter world for all of us,” Menendez said.
PYMNTS.com spoke with Menendez to discuss current trends in the cashless payments industry, how MasterCard introduces debit use to new populations and how the absence of cash can often also mean the absence of crime.
According to Menendez, debit usage in the U.S. reached a milestone in the U.S. in 2012 in that it’s now bigger than credit in terms of overall volume. In fact, Menendez said that debit accounts for more than 50 percent spent around the world, and cited Nielson Reports showing that MasterCard’s U.S. debit portfolio exceeds some of its competitors credit portfolios.
But how does MasterCard introduce debit to new groups of consumers? Menendez said it’s important for MasterCard to encourage debit card use within the first 90 days or so of a consumer’s initial engagement with the project. That’s the best time to change a consumer’s behavior, and to reinforce that using debit for daily transactions is both convenient and safe.
“With debit cards, like with any other product, there’s a moment of engagement early on when the product is sold,” Menendez said. “We need to instill in you that a debit card is not just about taking out cash, it’s about using it in the POS device, and that convenience that replacing cash in your wallet brings.”
Menendez notes that MasterCard has had success in introducing the theme of debit practicality to the Brazilian market, where strong “above the line advertising” has led to an increase in adoption of cashless payments.
“Once you get the consumer understanding that [debit] is actually much more convenient, then they continue to use the product,” he said.
But while Menendez focused on debit as an easier and more efficient means to make transactions, he also stressed the inherent security that comes from a cashless environment as well. Menendez notes that without cash, people have less incentive to commit personal crimes, and consumers can feel safer in their everyday lives.
“Cash is the currency of crime, right?" Menendez said. "In a world where you don’t have to carry cash, you’re safer walking around, you’re leaving a record of everything you buy … and fundamentally you get a better sense of where you’re spending your money.”
To hear more Menendez on the program in Brazil, a cashless Italian program catered to the youth and more, listen to the podcast below.
Group Executive, Global Debit, MasterCard Worldwide
Carlos Menendez is group executive, Global Debit, for MasterCard Worldwide. In this position, Mr. Menendez is responsible for innovation, commercialization and development of market strategies for the global portfolio of MasterCard debit products, including Debit MasterCard, Maestro and Cirrus brands.
Mr. Menendez’s extensive consumer banking experience—spanning Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas— further enhances the company’s global perspective and is a driving force behind MasterCard’s future debit growth.
Prior to joining MasterCard, Mr. Menendez held a number of positions at Citigroup, where he worked for more than 14 years. Most recently he was chief operating officer for Western Europe, responsible for a full range of consumer banking products across four European countries. Before this, he was the EMEA regional cards director and divisional consumer head for the Nordics. As the regional cards director, he was responsible for the cards business strategy and execution for more than 18 countries across Europe, Middle East and Africa. Prior to Citigroup, Mr. Menendez worked in Brand Management with Procter & Gamble and with a law office in Washington DC.
Mr. Menendez holds a BA in Economics from Harvard University, an MA in International Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from The Wharton School.