Mastercard’s drive to scale digital payments across the ecosystem has led the payments network to find new ways to help FinTechs participate in this mission through its Accelerate program, giving tech-nimble startups the tools and access they need to scale quickly.
In an interview with Karen Webster, Mastercard’s Executive Vice President of Digital Partnerships Sherri Haymond, TabaPay Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer Manoj Verma and TabaPay Co-founder and President Rodney Robinson said that linking up through Accelerate has led to tangible benefits for both firms, through cross-pollination of insight and know-how that addresses gig payments, among other use cases.
Haymond drilled down into the mechanics of its partnerships, stating that Mastercard has cultivated relationships with banks over a period of decades.
Along the way, of course, the payments giant has built a suite of products and services that new companies want to access — but not in the same way. And in many cases, those firms do not need to have banking licenses in place.
In this case, Mastercard works with TabaPay as the FinTech seeks to provide account funding with speed and visibility in a world where instant deposits and instant credit are increasingly in demand.
“We have been taking a hard look at those offerings and figuring out ways to make it much easier for companies like TabaPay to connect to our products and services and use our rails to disperse money to people who really need it, and who need access to these funds in a fast and secure manner,” Haymond said. Speedy payouts are especially important to gig economy workers, she said, among the other use cases the two companies are targeting.
Against that backdrop, TabaPay’s niche is as a Mastercard Send reseller, enabling push and pull payments for customers. According to the company, they see an annual $1.8 billion in volume on Mastercard.
“FinTechs, money businesses and lenders all have a couple of common threads,” Robinson said. “They all typically operate outside the banking system. They aren’t banks, but they need banking services.” But, as he told Webster, all of these companies have to accept payments and disperse funds — and, as a result, they all have to use the banking system.
“We fill that need [to handle payments] in an underserved market with cards,” continued Robinson, “whether it’s FinTechs or brand-new companies looking for banking or lending, where 95 [percent] of loans are on the ACH rails, or whether it’s service-oriented businesses that use ACH and cash.”
Robinson noted that TabaPay, which traces its genesis back to 2017, sits in the middle of the ecosystem between banks and merchants, explaining the complex new businesses to its banking partners in order to get those companies banked and help them receive and disburse money. As Robinson said, TabaPay matches Mastercard with the banks and the lending businesses as funds flow across Mastercard’s cards.
Asked by Webster when TabaPay realized it needed to engage Mastercard more fully into its solution, Robinson said, “We started the company on April 3, 2017, and we went to Mastercard on April 4.”
Spotlighting the relationship between Mastercard and TabaPay through the Accelerate program, Haymond said TabaPay had been looking to access services that Mastercard traditionally made available to banks.
“There were ways, and obviously constructs, for non-banks to access these services,” she told Webster, “but it was not streamlined.”
Mastercard reexamined its rules and technical frameworks to make it easier for FinTechs to onboard to the network’s services, application programming interfaces (APIs) and developers. Mastercard Engage exists as a connection platform within Accelerate, said Haymond, bringing together FinTech companies and other members of Mastercard’s ecosystem. The company continues to tailor Engage to meet the needs of its non-bank customers as well.
“These are all incremental steps we’ve taken that have culminated in the formalization of all of this rethinking, and critical thinking, to enable important new use cases,” Haymond said. “That has come to fruition as the Accelerate program.” Mastercard also has the ability, as Haymond related, to step in and help co-develop FinTechs’ strategies as they go to market.
TabaPay, for its part, has found value in having access to Mastercard when technical questions arise, said Robinson. And in looking toward future milestones, success can (and will) be measured beyond the metrics of TabaPay increasing its payment processing activities and revenues through increased engagement with merchants, as Verma noted.
From Mastercard’s perspective, Haymond told Webster, value lies in “solving real-world problems … Mastercard takes its cues on where to look through feedback from our partners. As real-life needs come up, we can address them.”