Earnings Review: Positive trends and accelerating execution of our strategic prioritiesApril 29, 2021 | By Sachin Mehra
Earlier today, we reported on our first-quarter financial performance for 2021. If you listened to the call or read some of the initial news coverage, you likely walked away with an appreciation of the positive trends we’re seeing across the business. These come as a result of the focus and investments our teams are placing on customer relationships and driving innovative thinking.
The momentum we established at the end of 2020 carried through to the new year. We are encouraged to see more markets transition from the Normalization phase, identified in the framework we defined to manage through the COVID-19 environment, to the Growth phase domestically. That plays out with net revenue up 2% in the quarter (year-over-year on a currency-neutral basis), returning to positive growth for the first time since the peak of the pandemic in the second quarter last year.
As important, the habits people established during the pandemic — opting for contactless and online shopping — remain. Throughout April, consumers have shown their optimism around the progress with vaccinations in several markets. We continue to see strong growth in card-not-present cross-border volumes, excluding online travel-related spend. And, the trends continue to improve in discretionary categories like clothing, furniture and sporting goods.
This is where each quarter I usually provide context around what drives our results and what makes Mastercard a preferred partner and a valuable investment. Today, I’d like to focus on our differentiated services offerings.
For those of you not as familiar with our business, our services activities are the solutions that go beyond our core payments infrastructure and applications. Over the past decade, we have strategically invested in areas like cybersecurity; insights, analytics and consulting; fraud detection; processing; consumer loyalty; and marketing services.
This expansive set of services helps a broad group of customers derive greater value from our multiple payment rails and brings the same high standard of trust to entirely new areas. During the call, Michael and I highlighted several examples of how our partners are leveraging our services, including Gap Inc., Santander, El Corte Ingles, Huntington Bank and TCF. Separately, our Recovery Insights initiative, powered by the Mastercard Economics Institute, is helping businesses and governments use our analytics capabilities to understand the current economy and plan for the months ahead.
Digital identity is another important service that will help to power — and secure — the shift to a greater digital economy. These efforts — including our planned acquisition of Ekata — will help safely and easily prove a person’s identity while enabling them to maintain control over their information.
All of our services activities are supported by our strong data principles and data commitments. We have embedded these principles into how we do business every day, helping to reinforce the critical trust, decency and assurance consumers and businesses look for and expect from Mastercard.
This will all go hand-in-hand with a commitment to carefully manage our priorities and the elements we can control. This is how we aim to deliver on the long-term growth opportunities ahead of us.