Long the ‘bridesmaid’ to Visa’s ‘bride’ in the UK, Mastercard is starting to fight back against its rival.
The ‘big five’ high street banking giants in the UK, namely Lloyds, Barclays, RBS/NatWest, HSBC and Santander all use the Visa network for all the debit cards they issue, meaning that most consumers in the UK currently use debit cards that are run on the Visa network, but that is about to change.
Mastercard first began to strike back last year when it agreed a seven-year deal with TSB, whereby the bank would reissue debit cards to all its current account customers, taking them into the Mastercard network.
At the time this seemed a significant win, as TSB became Mastercard’s largest debit card issuer in the UK.
However, Mastercard did not stop there and last week announced an even bigger deal, the first struck with one of the ‘big five’.
Santander have agreed to start migrating the debit cards of all its current account customers over to the Mastercard network from the beginning of 2019. That amounts to over nine million accounts.
Added to Virgin Money, Citibank, CYBG – owner of Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank – and Metro Bank, who all use the Mastercard network in the UK already, the capture of TSB and Santander means that Mastercard will soon have a fifth of the UK market.
Divisional president for Mastercard in the UK, Mark Barnett, said: ‘We are excited about working with Santander, one of the world’s most trusted and innovative banks, to bring new and customer-centric functionality to their debit card offering.’
He continued: ‘For us, this partnership is further proof that Mastercard’s debit card solutions offer all the flexibility, security and convenience banks and their cardholders require in the digital age and, with this agreement, Mastercard gains real scale in the UK debit card market.’
Consumers who have their debit cards switched from Visa to Mastercard are unlikely to notice any difference, as it is very rare to come across a retailer or merchant that accepts cards from one issuer and not the other.