Tulsi Narayan, Mastercard: ‘Truly smooth payments are possible’
Source; Mastercard

Mastercard has onboarded six new startups on its Start Path Acceptance programme whilst also finding a new partner in digital payments provider Checkout.com.

The US-based global payments giant revealed that the UK’s Cardstream, US firms Gr4vy and Hoox, Saudi Arabia’s Nearpay, Nigeria’s Omniretail and Singapore’s Tazapay, are the latest entrants on its Start Path Acceptance.

The six firms were highlighted as examples of late-stage startups that are playing a role in growing the global payments ecosystem. Mastercard states that this is an example of its partnership-led approach to working with fintechs.

“As we push the boundaries of acceptance, collaboration is key to providing safe, seamless and frictionless solutions that empower the entire ecosystem to thrive,” said Jennifer Marriner, Executive Vice President, Acceptance Solutions at Mastercard. 

“The emerging, impactful fintechs joining this new Start Path program represent the continued need to extend and fortify acceptance today and for the future, and we’re excited to play a part in their journey.”

Start Path Acceptance comprises startups which the firm has identified as driving innovation in areas such as creating low-cost solutions for small businesses, enabling non-traditional channel acceptance and providing holistic business management in payments.

The programme has been active since 2014. In its 10 years of activity, over 400 startups from 54 countries have participated in the programme, and have since gone on to raise more than $15bn (£11.9bn/€14bn) in post-programme capital.

Meanwhile, the Checkout.com contract will see the firm bring virtual cards to online travel agents as part of the Mastercard Wholesale Programme. The end goal is to reduce costs for travel businesses using virtual card technology.

The partners also believe travel agencies will benefit from higher conversion rates as well as the programme’s pricing model. This will enable Checkout.com customers to pay suppliers more easily.

Meron Colbeci, Chief Product Officer at Checkout.com, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Mastercard to complement our virtual card issuing solution, enabling Online Travel Agents to unlock new revenue streams and deliver a connected customer experience. 

“Together we’ll offer higher payment performance to travel merchants by combining the Mastercard Wholesale Program with our single integration connecting acquired sales to issued cards, which unifies acquiring and issuing, for better cash flow management.”

Mastercard has been stepping up its efforts in virtual card issuing of late. Just last month the firm launched a mobile virtual card app for financial institutions, with HSBC Australia and Westpac, its debut partners.

Virtual cards is a growing market and have become an area for a variety of firms in the payments space. This includes traditional giants like Mastercard and new challengers like Monzo. In 2022, the UK Payments Association estimated that the global market would be worth €6.7trn (£5.7trn/$7.2trn) by 2026.

“Mastercard remains committed to powering the travel economy with digital payment solutions that provide greater flexibility, visibility, and protection,” said George Simon, EVP, Market Development, Mastercard Europe.

“Over 400,000 travel providers worldwide already rely on us to enable payments through the Mastercard Wholesale Program, and we’re thrilled to be collaborating with Checkout.com to support their customers to embrace the next generation of payment solutions for B2B travel.”