- Mastercard has chosen eight new startups to participate in its Start Path program for supporting new businesses, the company said Wednesday in a post on its website. The program provides late-stage startups with access to its customer base to test their services.
- The startups selected for the program were: Dodo, Flow Networks, Hi, KaiOS, Kani Payments, NowNow, Sharesies and SmilePay. Hailing from the U.S., the U.K., Singapore, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Australia and New Zealand, the companies provide a range of services, including lending, payments data management, investing and facial recognition, per the company's statement.
- Since its founding in 2014, less than 300 startups have participated in the program. The card network company highlighted its recent specialized programs for founders from underrepresented backgrounds and for entrepreneurs in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space.
In its announcement regarding the new cohort of startups participating in the Start Path program, Mastercard touted the success of previous participants. Cledara, a U.K.-based purchasing and management platform, reported a spike in transaction volume last year and has expanded its employee headcount from five to more than 40 employees, Mastercard said.
Mastercard Start Path Global Lead Naresh Ponnana said the initiative serves as a "springboard for co-innovation with the startups," with some opportunities arising after the program ends.
"With startups, we know they’re juggling concepts for many products, across many markets, and many customers," Ponnana said in the statement. "Through the program, we try to point them to the one unique idea or opportunity to take to market in collaboration with Mastercard and our customers."
Some of Mastercard's new Start Path cohort members are already engaging in partnerships of their own. Earlier this year, SmilePay piloted its payment facial recognition technology at the Bravo supermarket chain in Azerbaijan, Trend News Agency reported. In September 2021, payments data company Kani teamed up with Equals Group, a platform that provides international payments, domestic transfers and expense management services, to improve data management, per a press release.
Mastercard in the past has collaborated with multiple emerging payments startups to enhance its offerings for small businesses and financial institutions. In August 2021, Synctera teamed up with Mastercard and Marqeta to assist community banks in areas such as payment reconciliation and regulatory compliance. Earlier this year, the payments giant collaborated with Flowcast and Highnote to issue credit cards tailored to small and mid-sized businesses. It also joined forces earlier this month with Interos to provide risk assessment tools.