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Influence

MasterCard Grows Lobby Shop to Sell New Image

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Credit cards ranked as the most common form of debt for those polled (with 42 percent), followed by mortgages (38 percent), car loans (32 percent), unpaid medical expenses (22 percent), and student loans (21 percent). Mortgages representes the largest volume of debt owed (50 percent), followed distantly by student loans (14 percent).(MARK LENNIHAN/AP)

After the banking industry's meltdown and years of bruising fights over Wall Street reform left the financial sector's image in tatters, MasterCard is trying to position itself less as a Wall Street icon and more as a hip tech company.

And to help, the company is doubling the size of its Washington office to a six-person team.

The payment network juggernaut is selling itself as a company "that moves numbers from one bucket to another," said Tucker Foote, who is leading MasterCard's office as head of U.S. government affairs.

Indeed, the company is taking a kinder, more collaborative approach to Washington and looking for ways to do more business with the federal government, much like in 2008 when it linked up with the Treasury Department to issue benefit cards to Social Security beneficiaries.

"We want to find new ways to partner with the government, not fight it," Foote said.

The change in tack comes after MasterCard, banks and other major financial players lost a years-long assault by the retail industry to cap so-called swipe fees, the amount retailers are charged to use debit cards. They essentially lost the legislative fight last year. And this summer, MasterCard, along with Visa and banks that issue their cards, reached a $7.25 billion settlement with merchants who use their credit and debit cards.

"We believe the case is closed and there is enormous fatigue on this issue," Foote said.

But, he added, if Congress was interested in rolling back the Wall Street reform law's cap on debit fees "we would love to explore and talk about that."

Three new faces will help push the company's message: Rachel McGreevy, vice president of state government affairs; Nicole Petrosino vice president of federal government affairs; and Maria Saadat, a senior business aide for U.S. government affairs.

Tom Gannon is the vice president of public policy for the federal level, and Richard Santoro is the vice president of public policy for the state level.

MasterCard has spent $1.89 million on advocacy so far this year, lobbying bills such as SOPA and cyber security, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

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