Five or six years ago, the fintech they hardly played a role in the digital arena. But already that one, some firms realized the revolution that was coming with the entry of new companies in a sector as traditionally corseted as is the financial one. And in the face of this disruption, of competitors but potential partners, there were companies that chose to close in band as the times progressed. Others, on the other hand, opted for open cooperation with them.
The latter is the case of Mastercard, the multinational of payments, which has been maintaining a program -Start Path- for five and a half years with which to promote fintech startups around the world. Its head, Ian O'Sullivan, explains to INNOVATORS that the idea "was born by recognizing that we needed to get closer to the base of the system to identify trends, changes in technology or adaptations of it that could affect our industry, directly or indirectly. "
This resulted in a four-phase acceleration plan that is articulated in another four months of acceleration and eight months of execution of business models. A range of innovation in which they have already been identified more than 200 startups around the globe that encompass sectors as diverse as payment gateways, the internet of things, cybersecurity or artificial intelligence. Among the names already recognized that are or have been immersed in this initiative are some such as India BharatPe, the European Warply or the Israeli Segasec, in addition to several entrepreneurial projects with Spanish or Portuguese seal.
"These innovative companies can work with us and our clients with the aim of bring products to market faster that if we build them ourselves. Because there was a very large gap between demand and supply and, therefore, we decided to fill that gap by moving towards the beginning of the process, "says the executive.
As a differentiating element, in addition, the fact that Mastercard stands out does not request capital of accelerated companies, although it maintains options to invest in them when their maturity is greater. "Our intention is to work with the best possible companies. If capital is sought in advance, it is very difficult to get the approval of those companies to virtually join the program. We make it as easy as possible to join, that there are no barriers. That is why We focus a lot on startups in the initial stages, so Start Path also has a high educational and training component.Also, if you join the initiative, a person from our team becomes an extension of yours to help you navigate the ecosystem already expand its business in the Mastercard network, "adds O'Sullivan.
A full-fledged "win-win" with which Mastercard customers are made with cutting-edge technology in a very short period of time and with the final guarantee of the multinational payments. "We already have very good examples in smart returns, logistics solutions for the e-commerce, facial recognition tools or risk analysis, "says the manager." Start Path is therefore not limited to payments or fintech itself. Only 30% of the startups we accelerate are fintech, many others are involved in automation processes, machine learning technologies, sustainability proposals or for improving the customer experience. "
Ian O’Sullivan, from his chair in front of Start Path, is an exceptional witness to all this digital boom, but it also presents a peculiarity that makes it a perfect link between the world of traditional banking and new milestones. And this executive is a historical of traditional banking, with experience in positions of responsibility in prestigious entities such as City or the Anglo Irish Bank. "For me it is important to be able wear both hats, banking and startups, to be able to unite the needs of the two poles. Because ultimately I am also responsible for ensuring that our banks and corporate members have access to the best available technology, while making startups understand the restrictions and legality that affect this industry, "he acknowledges.
"I like to think that I have a mixture of both worlds, that I can play with the strengths of both sides and that I can speak in both languages. Because they are not compatible immediately, we must try to match the interests of startups and large companies and that is only achieved with a trusted intermediary and with the will of all involved. "