Bird & Bird and Linklaters Advise MasterCard on Maestro Roll-out

20 August 2002

Switch debit cards to be migrated to the Maestro brand

International law firms Linklaters and Bird & Bird recently advised MasterCard on a deal which will lead to the phasing out of the Switch debit card brand. The deal, reached between the Switch Card Scheme and MasterCard Europe will enable Switch to migrate its brand to Maestro, one of the world’s leading debit brands. The deal will see the Switch card phased out over the next five years.

Owned by MasterCard, the Maestro brand has strong global functionality compared to Switch which is only accepted in the UK. Although most Switch cards already carry the Maestro logo on the reverse, the move to fully migrate to Maestro is intended to simplify and clarify usage of the card – with one brand accepted both domestically and internationally.

As well as issues relating to the branding change and the way in which the scheme will be run in the UK, the method used for transactions to be processed will be completely remodelled. This will be done through outsourcing all processing to MasterCard using EPS-Net, the telecommunications and data processing arm for MasterCard and Maestro transactions in Europe.

Linklaters advised on all issues relating to the re-branding, the related marketing activity and the new agency structure, and on all EC and UK competition issues arising out of the deal. Partner Roland Mallinson led the work assisted by Eleni North. Bird & Bird advised on all matters related to the way in which transactions are processed. Partner Nick Perry led the work with assistance from Katie O’Brien.

Commenting on the deal, John Bushby from MasterCard said:

“This is a very important deal for MasterCard Europe and an exciting development for our Maestro branded debit product in one of the world’s major markets. The deal itself was complex and we very much valued the advice of both teams of lawyers who worked together with us forming an effective team”

Linklaters partner Roland Mallinson said:

“Negotiations with the banks were conducted over a period of almost 12 months. The deal means that new innovations in the service provided by MasterCard can be much more readily introduced and it also makes it easier for new members to join the others currently in the scheme. In addition, customers will benefit from the deal by having a card that they can use in many countries worldwide in essentially the same way as they have been using their Switch cards at home in the UK.”

Bird & Bird partner Nick Perry said:

“This was a challenging deal involving meeting the requirements of a number of different banks simultaneously. The fundamental change in processing technology to be implemented will enable participating banks to deliver debit card services more efficiently across a wider geographical area.”

For any more information, please contact Nick Perry or Larry Cattle of Bird & Bird on +44 (0) 20 7415 6000 or Rupert Winlaw of Linklaters on +44 (0) 20 7456 3219.