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Maestro History:

Debit cards; evolved out of technical progress
Money. It has always been in some form or the other that money was used as an tool to exchange services or products. Way back we used certain denominations to transfer our cattle to the neighboring province, while nowadays we use pounds, dollars, euro's and all rand's to make an exchange possible. We trade money for value, and with the newly obtained money, one can buy something different, also of value. Money has been available in silver coins, golden coins, bank notes and since a relatively short time in history also electronically. This means that the money is handed over via a cash transaction or via securities, but via encrypted coding and payments over telecommunication cables.

This is where the debit card comes in. A debit card is a payment method that belongs to the bank account of a certain cardholder. An account that is accessible only by the consumer of the bank and that allows for transactions between this consumer and between the merchant or the service provider where he wants to buy food, drinks or whatever. It can also be used to deduct money from a savings or bank account and to get this money cash in hand. In a sense, this is all digital money; the money is in digits on the bank account and you transfer this encrypted. Service providers witnessed that banks could not cope with this technology and offered them these services.

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MasterCard and Maestro: from start-ups to multimillion businesses
Maestro is a fully owned subsidiary company owned by MasterCard. Maestro was one of the first on the European and later also international markets that fully acknowledged the opportunities offered by digital money transfers. They decided to develop a framework and technological environment that could be used in order to allow for payments with debit cards. These cards are applied for by the bank and the bank connects the customer and his bank account to an application for Maestro. Maestro issues a card-number and a personal identification number (PIN) or other ways to identify yourself as the owner of the card. Once Maestro has approved your application, they send the card to the bank.

In short, this is the service as it has been developed by Maestro and MasterCard. But there is more to it than just this short description. MasterCard and Maestro also developed the necessary infrastructure that merchants and customers need to handle the payments. First via telephone lines and later via internet cables, Maestro offered their services also to merchants, shops, gas stations and other interested parties that reckoned the sheer dominance that digital banking might reach in the near future (we now talk way back in time, like 30 years). Maestro also set-up the connections between the ATM of the bank and the account of the cardholder. They are not a monopolist, but 90% of debit cardholders in certain countries now have a Maestro logo on their card.

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Debit cards; online banking?
The dominance of Maestro reflects in the fact that over 500 million debit cards have their logo on it. Next, 11 million ATM's, shops, stores and the like, accept the payment portal that Maestro offers. Digital money, that sticks to your wallet in the form of a little plastic card, has become the standard of banking in Europe, the US and many other developed regions in the world. Maestro still continues to expand their network of stores, banks and even online shops that allow for a payment with Maestro. And this is where the real market of Maestro for the years to come is. Online banking has been growing ever since the internet made it possible to order books, clothes and DVD's online.

In countries like the Netherlands or the US, sales via internet have been tripled in the last 5 years. And this not only includes sales or service, it also includes transactions to adult sites or online gaming websites. Maestro realizes that the future of banking is in great part online and that their debit cards should cope with these developments. That's why several banks have made specific arrangements for online transactions. MasterCard has in several countries a special code that has been made available. This code (the MasterCard Secure Code) allows for further transactions with the debit card of Maestro and makes it even easier to transfer money online.


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