J.P. Morgan Chase Hires New Chief For Sapphire Reserve

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is bringing in a new executive to oversee the Sapphire Reserve credit card.

The nation’s largest bank has hired Matthew Massaua to oversee the popular rewards card and other Sapphire cards, according to a J.P. Morgan memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Massaua, who is scheduled to start his new job January 1, will succeed Lisa Walker, who ran the Sapphire card suite and is planning to take on a new role within the bank’s card division.

While consumer demand for Sapphire Reserve was high when the bank introduced the card last year, J.P. Morgan executives have raised concerns that it won’t make money for the bank because of the card’s generous rewards.

Banks generate credit-card revenue from the annual fees customers pay, the interest charged on their balances and the fees merchants pay when the card is used at their businesses.

Much of J.P. Morgan’s faith in Sapphire Reserve rests on how many customers will spend $450 on the card’s annual renewal fee.

Trish Wexler, a J.P. Morgan spokeswoman, said the bank has seen renewals in excess of 90 percent, and has seen “strong retention, frequent card usage, and we’re beginning to deepen these relationships across Chase.”

Massaua was previously a top executive at Barclaycard International, which includes the British bank’s U.S. credit-card unit and is most well-known for its co-branded cards with JetBlue Airways Corp. and more recently Uber Technologies Inc.

In recent weeks, J.P. Morgan also promoted its head of Chase branded cards Pamela Codispoti, who helped launch Sapphire Reserve, to run the bank’s branch network.