Mastercard taps Starling Bank to settle faster U.K. push payments

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Mastercard is working with Starling Bank as its strategic partner to settle funds sent within the U.K. through its Mastercard Send service.

The move enables banks and other businesses to send and receive real-time P2P and corporate disbursement payments to U.K. bank accounts through the domestic Faster Payments scheme, which Starling Bank supports, Mastercard said in a Wednesday press release.

In the U.K., Mastercard Send leverages the real-time payment rails of VocaLink, which the card network purchased last year. Mastercard Send’s latest offering particularly targets corporations making regular disbursements, and the first customer for the service is U.K.-based Income Group, which specializes in quick-turnaround payroll services for corporations, the release said.

“Existing direct-to-bank-account solutions—even those using Faster Payments—are often batch-based and hence less timely, giving businesses a real headache when it comes to disbursements of funds,” said Mark Barnett, divisional president of Mastercard in the U.K., in the release.

“Working with Starling Bank as our settlement agent, we are proud that ... we can offer a real-time payroll payment service to U.K. businesses at a competitive price point,” added Ian Wheeler, Income Group’s co-founder and CEO, in the release.

One analyst expressed skepticism about the need for a multi-partner approach to speed same-day domestic payments in the U.K.

“About 98% of the U.K. population is reachable by Faster Payments and it takes less than seconds for the recipient to send via their banking app,” said Gareth Lodge, a senior analyst with Celent.

While some corporations may look to cut costs by sending corporate disbursement payments in batches, speed is not a critical factor for most business use cases, Lodge suggested.

“In most instances, large-scale disbursements don’t need to be instant — just fast. So a batch file will normally hit a customer’s account in a few minutes and for payroll, that’s more than acceptance,” Lodge said.

Mastercard Send supports P2P in the U.S., plus remittances and cross-border corporate payments in roughly 100 countries, a Mastercard spokesperson said.

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Faster payments Mastercard U.K.