New network data from Mastercard Inc. show U.S. switched volume is off 6% year-over-year for the week ending May 7 compared with a 26% decline in the week ending April 30.
Mastercard on Thursday released two more weeks of network data, for the weeks ending May 7 and April 28, after earlier issuing data for the preceding weeks in April. After several months of declines in consumer and business spending due to governmental lockdown orders worldwide to control the Covid-19 pandemic, Mastercard now says the economy may be moving from what it calls “stabilization” toward “normalization” as restrictions gradually ease in many places.
“We believe that we are starting to see the transition from the stabilization phase to the normalization phase in some markets, although it is very early days,” Mastercard said in a report. “The stabilization phase is characterized by spending stabilizing around new lower levels as a result of compliance with social distancing and mobility limitations. The normalization phase occurs when these restrictions are relaxed and spending begins to gradually recover from the new lower levels, with some sectors recovering faster than others.”
Worldwide switched volume was down 12% in the May 7 week from a year earlier compared with its 30% decline in the week ending April 14. Mastercard’s worldwide transaction numbers were mostly in line with the volume changes, most recently off 12% in the May 7 week compared with 24% declines for the weeks of April 7 and 14.
Some sectors, especially travel, remain in the tank although there are signs improvement. Cross-border volume, closely linked to travel, was down 43% in the May 7 week compared with the 55% year-over-year decline in the week ending April 14. With many stores and restaurants still either closed or having switched to online ordering, cross-border card-present volumes were down about 80% as of May 7 from a year earlier, up a few percentage points from most of April. But card-not-present cross-border volume in non-travel categories is up by more than 30% year-over-year.
“Switched volume is showing an improving trend over the past two weeks, in part due to the relaxation of social-distancing measures in several markets and the impact of fiscal stimulus in the United States,” Mastercard’s report says. “Cross-border volume continues to be impacted by the decline in travel, although we have seen modest improvements over the last week in part due to an increase in intra-Europe travel.”
Sanjay Sakhrani, a payments-industry analyst at New York City-based investment firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, said in a report that “we’re encouraged” by Mastercard’s new numbers, which he said were “in line to modestly better” than KBW’s expectations for the company’s second quarter.