Global payments giant Mastercard is bullish about the next 12 months as consumers return to their old spending habits and learn to live with the pandemic. 

Mastercard reported a fourth-quarter 2021 net profit of $2.4 billion, up by 33 percent from $1.8 billion a year ago. The growth has been driven by higher global consumer spending and cross-border payments, which have already exceeded the levels seen prior to the health outbreak. Full-year profit also jumped 35 percent to $8.7 billion. 

“We had a strong fourth quarter as spending trends continued to improve, with Q4 cross-border spending now above pre-pandemic levels,” said Michael Miebach, Mastercard CEO. 

“We are optimistic about the coming year as consumers, businesses and governments have become more adaptable to the changing environment.” 

Spending across the world plunged in 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions forced consumers to cancel travel plans and avoid going to restaurants, supermarkets and other public venues. 

Mastercard’s fourth-quarter 2021 revenue reached $5.2 billion, up by 27 percent from $4.1 billion in the same period in 2020. 

During the last three months of 2021, Mastercard repurchased 3.7 million shares at a cost of $1.3 billion and paid $434 million in dividends. Repurchased shares for the full year 2021 totalled 16.5 million at a cost of $5.9 billion, while paid dividends amounted to $1.7 billion. 

Quarter-to-date through January 24, Mastercard repurchased 1.4 million shares for $528 million, which left $11.4 billion remaining under the company’s approved share repurchase programs. 

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria) 

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