Global payments company Mastercard has invested in five new fintech start-ups specializing in the future of commerce.
Three of the start-ups selected are focused on artificial intelligence (AI), while the remaining two are targeting retailers and lenders within the banking and payments sector.
The investment is part of the spring wave of Mastercard’s Start Path Global program – an initiative to foster and support later-stage start-ups that have raised a significant seed or Series A funding.
“Designing a digital future”
According to Mastercard Start Path vice president Amy Neale, “Fintech start-ups around the world are designing a digital future”, by giving customers more choice and more personal experiences.
“Our work with these start-ups helps connect new technology with reliable, secure financial networks and processes to create an even more rewarding and seamless commerce experience,” she added.
Of Mastercard’s recent investments, London-based Divido and Israeli start-up Endor make up the retail and lender contingent.
Divido provides an omni-channel platform to a range of lenders, which allows consumers to buy expensive products and services in interest-free installments.
Endor provides an intelligence software platform, where users can ask any business-related question and supposedly get back a high-quality answer in minutes instead of months; for example, ‘Where should we open our next store?’ or ‘How can we reduce our reliance on promotions?’
It is not yet clear how Mastercard hopes to benefit from these investments.
Focusing on AI
The AI start-ups in which MasterCard has announced investments include:
- Regalii. Born in Silicon Valley, its platform powers more than 30 banks worldwide, helping customers track and manage their finances
- Fluid AI. Based in Mumbai, it combines AI and augmented reality to help banks and retailers deliver a better customer experience in branches
- NetPlusDotCom. Located in Nigeria, the company aims to dominate the African e-commerce and electronic payment market with its range of digital products
Artificial intelligence is already being used to offer more personalized customer experiences in other sectors, but it has seemingly been a slow burn in the banking sector.
While Royal Bank of Scotland and the UK’s Clydesdale and Yorkshire building societies trialing AI services in branches, Mastercard is exploring a whole host of options.
Applications now open
Since 2014, Mastercard has worked with 100 companies across 24 countries via its Start Path program. Of those companies, 20 percent have gone on to work with Mastercard in commercial engagements or pilots.
In Europe, for example, Mastercard is collaborating with DigiSEq, an IoT payment device enabler, to enable payments on wearables.
In 2016, Mastercard worked with Rainbird to build a virtual assistant to augment knowledge-sharing and decision-making across the MasterCard UK loyalty sales team.
Applications for the Start Path summer class are now open until midnight on Sunday, 23rd April.