Innovating acceptance: Mastercard launches program for startups seeking to extend digital payments

May 2, 2024

Six startups join the new Start Path Acceptance program to expand the acceptance ecosystem around the world – from smart routing to cloud-led solutions

Mastercard today announced the expansion of its award-winning startup engagement program, Start Path, welcoming six late-stage startups from around the world that are playing a role in growing the payments acceptance ecosystem.

The ability to accept electronic payments has been critical to shaping the future of commerce and spurring the secular shift to digital – unlocking new use cases and enhancing expectations for speed, simplicity and safety. Mastercard is at the center of this digitization, bringing forth new ways to pay while fortifying trust across all payment forms and flows.

With a global acceptance footprint that has doubled in just the last five years and includes more than 3.3 billion cards, Mastercard takes a partnership-led approach, connecting with fintech experts to solve critical problems facing the wider digital economy.

The inaugural Start Path Acceptance cohort is comprised of startups that are driving innovative solutions across a variety of use cases, including creating low-cost solutions for small businesses, enabling non-traditional channel acceptance, and providing holistic business management experiences in payments and beyond.

The startups joining the program will bring invaluable expertise to the table to inspire and inform Mastercard’s payments strategy and help solve for customer pain points. Throughout the four-month program, the startups will receive hands-on mentoring and collaboration opportunities as well as access to Mastercard’s global network of banks, merchants and digital players.

The following six companies will join the Start Path Acceptance program:

Cardstream [UK]: Accelerates fintech enablement through innovation and collaboration with partners, providing Payment Gateway and PayFac-as-a-Service platforms


“As Cardstream continues to deliver new payment services technology into the market, we’re excited to strengthen our long-term relationship with Mastercard,” says Adam Sharpe, CEO of Cardstream. "Through the global availability of our recently released full-service PayFac-as-a-Service platform, we foresee embedded payments being crucial to the future of acceptance for acquirers and payment channels, and we look forward to leading this next evolution in fintech.”

Gr4vy [U.S.]: Orchestrates cloud-based payments that empower merchants to customize and optimize their payment strategy


“I am passionate about making payments as seamless and safe as possible for the consumer and merchant,” says  John Lunn Founder and CEO of Gr4vy. “Gr4vy is the next evolution of payment acceptance, empowering merchants to own and act on their payment strategy whilst enabling the optimal consumer payment journey and choice."

Hoox [U.S.]: Offers Issuers an innovative card optimization platform, enabling them to boost customer engagement with personalized, real-time offers seamlessly integrated at the point of purchase


“Years within the payments industry inspired us to launch a fintech company fueled by a desire to disrupt and innovate legacy platforms and make a real change,” says Oz Azaria, CEO of Hoox. “Our vision for acceptance revolves around innovation, traceability, inclusivity and trust.”

Nearpay [Saudi Arabia]: Helps acquirers, payments service providers and fintechs to quickly and easily integrate and launch Tap on Phone on Android and iPhone devices


"We're excited to join this exceptional program, we believe the future is where payments acceptance becomes more embedded and inclusive while not compromising on the customer experience,” says Mohammad Aleban, CEO of Nearpay. “Our job is to revolutionize card present payments through beautiful design, simple integrations and quick deployments."

Omniretail [Nigeria]: Offers a fully integrated digital infrastructure to support traditional retailers, ensuring they have consistent access to essential goods and financial resources


“We’re driven by the goal to support more retailers previously excluded by the financial ecosystem and those experiencing cash flow issues to enhance their supply chain processes and help them grow,” says Deepanker Rustagi, founder and CEO of OmniRetail. “Through our integrated digital infrastructure, we’re empowering traditional retail on the continent by providing access to essential goods and capital.”

Tazapay [Singapore]: Enhances the seamless cross-border commerce experience, providing a platform for businesses to collect, hold and pay on one platform


“I was in fintech even before the term was coined and have witnessed three decades of innovative payment solutions bringing the world closer,” says Rahul Shinghal, co-founder and CEO of Tazapay. At Tazapay, our vision for the future of payment acceptance is centered on simplifying cross-border transactions to the point where international collections are as easy, cost effective and straightforward as domestic payments, enabling global commerce to flourish.”

“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.”

Mastercard has supported more than 400 startups from 54 countries through Start Path since the program was founded in 2014 and these companies have gone on to raise more than $15 billion in post-program capital. KaiOS, a leading mobile operating system for smart feature phones, was part of the Start Path program and continues to work closely with Mastercard to embed a range of payment solutions that foster digital inclusion in emerging markets. Today, many Start Path companies are entering public markets, reaching unicorn status and exploring extended commercial engagements with Mastercard and its customers.

Interested startups can apply for future Start Path Acceptance programs here.

Media contact: Jen Langione, Mastercard Global Communications, (917) 408-2941,