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Mastercard profit beats as easing pandemic curbs lift cross-border spending

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(Reuters) -Mastercard Inc reported a better-than-expected profit for the fourth consecutive quarter on Thursday, as easing of COVID-19 restrictions drove a healthy recovery in cross-border spending, which is back at pre-pandemic levels.

The growth was helped by an increase in both consumer and commercial travel, with business commutes also starting to kick in after leisure travel rebounded earlier, Chief Executive Officer Michael Miebach said on a post-earnings call.

"People wanted to see their family first, now they want to see their customers," Miebach said.

After more than a year of staying homebound, customers have started venturing out for travel, dining and other social activities made possible by vaccinations against the coronavirus, driving up spending volumes at payment companies like Mastercard.

On an adjusted basis, Mastercard earned $2.37 per share, shattering analyst estimates of $2.19 per share on average, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company said gross dollar volumes, the dollar value of the transactions processed, jumped 20% to nearly $2 trillion. Cross-border volumes, a metric that tracks spending on its cards beyond the country of issue, were up 52% from last year when the pandemic hit travel demand.

Travel has also picked up in all regions, Chief Financial Officer Sachin Mehra said, more notably within and to Europe and recently into Canada.

Net revenue rose 30% to $5 billion in the quarter, also above estimates of $4.95 billion.

Peers American Express Co and Visa Inc also reported profits that beat estimates earlier this month, fueled by a boom in spending.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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