||This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2009)
Maestro is a multi-national debit card service owned by MasterCard, and was founded in 1990. Maestro cards are obtained from associate banks and can be linked to the card holder's current account, or they can be prepaid cards. The cardholder presents the card at the point of sale (POS) and this is swiped through the terminal by the assistant or the customer or inserted into a chip and PIN device. The payment is authorised by the card issuer to ensure that the cardholder has sufficient funds in their account to make the purchase and the cardholder confirms the payment by either signing the sales receipt or entering their 4 to 6-digit PIN.
Within the EU and certain other countries, Maestro is MasterCard's main debit brand and is the equivalent of signature debit card which does not require electronic authorisation, similar to the Visa Debit card. In most other countries, Maestro is equivalent to a Visa Electron and is MasterCard's tertiary card. It requires electronic authorisation much like a Solo debit card, i.e. not only must the information stored in either the chip or the magnetic stripe be read, this has to be sent from the merchant to the issuing bank, the issuing bank then has to respond with an affirmative authorisation. If the information is not read, the issuer will decline the transaction, regardless of any disposable amount on the connected account. This is different from other debit and credit cards, where the information can be entered manually into the terminal (i.e. by punching the 13 to 19 digits and the expiry date on the terminal) and still be approved by the issuer or stand-in processor.
Maestro is accepted at around twelve million point of sale outlets.
Acceptance and availability 
Maestro card issued by a German bank
- In Germany and Austria, Maestro replaced the Eurocheque system. Austrian Maestro cards are virtually always pure Maestro cards. German Maestro cards, however, are in very most cases co-branded with the German Electronic Cash/Girocard logo. These co-branded cards work like normal Maestro cards within the Maestro network and as Girocards within the Girocard network, but they cannot be used as Maestro over the telephone or on the internet.
- In Belgium, Maestro cards are co-branded with the Belgian BC/MC-logo (BanContact Mister Cash).
- In the United Kingdom, the former Switch debit card system was re-branded as Maestro. Underneath the branding, however, the system was still the old Switch one and the cards were still fundamentally Switch. In 2011, MasterCard aligned UK Domestic Maestro (the former Switch) with the standard international Maestro proposition, ending its status as a separate card scheme. This change also led to the discontinuation of the Solo card.  In January 2009 First Direct and HSBC discontinued the use of Maestro card, issuing Visa Debit cards to new customers and a gradual roll-out throughout 2009 to existing customers. In September of the same year, the British arms of the National Australia Bank, being the Clydesdale Bank and the Yorkshire Bank, started the process of replacing the Maestro card with a Debit MasterCard for their current accounts, except for the Readycash and Student accounts, for which the Maestro card continues to be issued. Likewise, in the same month the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (Europe's largest debit card issuer which includes the NatWest, Coutts and Ulster Bank brands) switched from Maestro to Visa Debit, a process that will take two years to complete. This effectively means that practically no UK banks will be issuing Maestro cards, except in Northern Ireland.
- In Ireland The Laser system, which is co-branded with Maestro, is being replaced by Visa Debit and MasterCard Debit. Most banks are also taking this opportunity to rollout contactless payment technology. The Irish Laser debit card has already been phased out by most banks. Ireland's largest bank AIB will be the last and final institution to drop Laser/Maestro, and is expected to begin the rapid replacement of all of its debit cards in October 2012. Once that process is complete no more Irish Laser/Maestro cards will be in use. Irish Laser cards have carried Maestro co-branding for several years. They are a smart card intended to be used with chip and PIN POS systems. The chip on the card is programmed with two applications, one for Laser and one for Maestro. POS transactions are normally processed over the Laser transaction network in Ireland and the Maestro network when the card is used abroad. Some POS terminals prompt users to manually select Laser or Maestro before completing the transaction. Irish Laser cards can be processed as Maestro in most POS terminals worldwide for chip and PIN or swipe and sign transactions (where still accepted). Internet and telephone-based retailers, however, need to be set up specifically to accept Irish-issued Laser/Maestro cards. Transactions made with these cards are often secured by MasterCard's SecureCode system to verify the cardholder's identity. These cards are usually multi-functional and operate as a debit card as well as an ATM Card which can be used for accessing ATMs. Some banks also allow customers to use their cards to deposit or withdraw money over the counter or at An Post post offices using their debit card and PIN. Historically they cards could also contain a Cheque guarantee card function indicated by a hologram. This scheme was shut down in 2011. Foreign-issued Maestro cards are still accepted in Ireland in ATMs and by many POS machines. However, acceptance of Visa and MasterCard debit/credit cards is more reliably universal at POS terminals.
- In Denmark, Maestro has been replaced by the banks that issued it with Debit MasterCard. Moreover, the largest Danish bank Danske Bank has replaced all of its cash cards with Debit MasterCards.
- In the United States, Maestro is a PIN-based debit card network closely related to the Cirrus ATM network, also owned by MasterCard. Like other PIN-debit networks in the U.S., Maestro there relies solely on a standard card and PIN, without a chip; signature-debit transactions in the U.S. are handled through the main MasterCard network or the rival Visa network. RBS's U.S. subsidiary, Citizens Financial Group, also began a switch to Visa, though like most foreign banks with operations in the United States it uses MasterCard's Cirrus network and the card participates in the MasterCard SecureCode initiative.
- In Brazil, Maestro has acquired the existing Redeshop service and is in the process of rebranding it as Maestro. Brazilian Caixa Econômica Federal is currently the major Maestro issuer in the world, with over 34,000,000 cards issued as October 2006.
- In parts of Latin America, Maestro is known as MasterCard Maestro, as the brand name is not as widespread as in Europe.
- In Australia, Maestro is part of the EFTPOS program and is issued by all banks in Australia.
- In Argentina, Maestro is the card used by the Banco de la Nacion Argentina and other banks, mostly state-run or provincial banks.
- In Venezuela, Maestro is the leading debit card, issued by almost all major banks in the country. It is widely accepted in POS. It works on all ATMs showing the Suiche7B, Conexus and Cirrus logos.
- In India, Maestro is the leading PIN debit card in terms of circulation. It is the debit card of choice for almost all major banks, except ICICI Bank. Maestro issuing banks include the State Bank of India (India's largest bank), State Bank's affiliate banks, Punjab National Bank, Syndicate Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Bank of Rajasthan, etc.
- In Israel, Maestro Cards cannot be used at point of sales locations to make purchases but the Cirrus network is accepted at a majority of cash points most of the time. The exception is the 'First International Bank of Israel' (FIBI) who do not accept Cirrus.
- In Sri Lanka, Nations Trust Bank (NTB) issues all its customers with an ATM card, which also doubles as a Debit Card as well it being accepted at other Cirrus ATMs locally and internationally
- In China, Bank of China uses Maestro as its "international" debit card system. Also, certain Bank of China ATMs will present the user with Japanese or Korean language options upon insertion of a Maestro card.
- In Romania, Maestro is a popular debit card (the third one after Visa Electron and MasterCard Standard Debit), is still the main debit card issued by 3 banks: Unicredit-Tiriac Bank, Intesa SanPaolo and RIB, another 5 banks are issuing Maestro as a secondary debit card, these are: BCR, BRD, Raiffeisen, Carpatica and Emporiki.
- In Russia, Maestro Momentum is the only debit card that is being issued currently. The card is valid only in Russia, and cannot be used for internet payments
- In Italy, Maestro is the leading debit card for all the banks and only if the customer ask for something different a debit card issued by Visa_Inc., called V_PAY is offered. In this country the debit card system is called Bancomat, it works with ATM and POS.
- In the Netherlands, the debit cards of most banks are co-branded with Maestro. ABN AMRO issues a Maestro debit card with a number corresponding to the owner's nine digit account number and without a CVC code—thus it cannot be used for online transactions.
- In Serbia, Maestro is debit card, issued by several banks in Serbia. The main debit card by Banca Intesa Beograd. However, the Banca Intesa Beograd in September 2012 began a switch to Visa.
- In Japan, Maestro debit cards used to be accepted at Post offices and 7-Eleven stores until the suspension on April 19, 2013 due to changes in the ATM network. 
See also 
External links