Tearsheet’s Bank Fintech Partnership Award: Mastercard and Signzy

  • Mastercard and Signzy have won Tearsheet's Bank/Fintech Partnership Award for 2020.
  • Senior executives from both firms join us to talk about how their partnership around a new merchant onboarding solution.

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Tearsheet’s Bank Fintech Partnership Award: Mastercard and Signzy

Today we’re acknowledging one of the winners of our Bank/Fintech Partnership Award for 2020. Mastercard and Signzy are receiving the Customer Journey Award for the work they’ve done together tackling merchant onboarding.

I’m joined by Zahir Khoja, evp for merchant solutions and partnerships at Mastercard, and Arpit Ratan, co-founder of Signzy. I’ll let them explain the nature of their partnership and the problem they're attacking together. Our judges chose this partnership based on four criteria: creativity, innovative thinking, customer value and results.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

The partnership

Zahir Khoja, Mastercard: When Mastercard looks at growing its ecosystem, we think about how our channel partners can participate and enable that growth for us, given that we are a B2B2C organization.

We saw an opportunity for financial organizations, acquirers, and payment facilitators to shorten the time between onboarding a merchant and getting them up live in the system, so that consumers can start interacting with that merchant. There were several gaps we found with merchant onboarding, including the manual collection and the limited availability of data, the ability to cross-reference data and ensure it's authentic, and the ability to underwrite a merchant.

We started to look around at ways to solve this problem. We thought about whether we should build this solution on our own or whether we should be looking at the outside world to see who's doing it best. Through our Start Path program, Signzy came to us as a viable option. We looked at them and the success they had in India bringing this to market with more than one partner, proving it, and growing the ecosystem there. We recognized that their technology and management experience could bring something to market that was global in nature, could go global, as well as further develop it in India.

We formed a partnership and we've had tremendous success in terms of both inbound and outbound requests for us to enable smart merchant onboarding for our partners. We're going to be launching with a large global acquirer out of the US in Q2, which is a tremendous accolade to the problem we're able to solve with Signzy, Mastercard, and our partner.

Working together

Arpit Ratan, Signzy: There's definitely a size differential between our two companies. The challenge for Signzy as a young company was that we saw that the way we would have to work with a very large organization was different: different policies and different ways of working. Start Path is a great lever that enables companies of our size to easily navigate within the organization. We didn't need to start from scratch.

Zahir's acceptance team was also very warm to us. At no point in time were we made to feel very small compared to Mastercard. That brought a lot of warmth to the relationship.

From our perspective, Mastercard isn't only a big compay we're working with. In terms of vision, Mastercard has built a trusted payment system that has turned physical payments online, real time, and digital. That's what we're trying to solve with onboarding, as well -- we're trying to bring trust into digital onboarding of merchants across networks. We feel Mastercard and the way it built its business is a very good partner for us.

The opportunity with Mastercard is huge. The advantage of being in India is that our product has been tested at scale in our onboarding. Most other countries don't see that type of volume. The real opportunity is to start working in more geographies around the world.

Zahir Khoja, Mastercard: We're trying to grow the digital acceptance footprint around the globe. Our vision of a world beyond cash gives us a direction to focus. Onboarding is just the beginning of how we enable digitization into a lot of these markets. It enables economic and ecosystem growth. It enables inclusion and a lot of different things that empower businesses to grow in their market.

With Signzy, we've crystallized this message internally around various markets around to world to focus on reducing the time to onboard a merchant from weeks to minutes. Signzy really checked a lot of the boxes that enabled us to show our regions and markets the opportunity and to run with it to grow their merchant footprint from it.


Zahir Khoja, Mastercard: Of course, we're looking at things like merchant growth. But the success of this partnership is really the voice of our customer -- the acquirer or payment facilitator that's going to take the solution, embed it into their core processes, and reduce costs, increase the number of merchants they onboard, and increase their profitability. They're also seen as doing good in their markets. That's the ultimate KPI in terms of how successful this partnership really is.

Future of the partnership

Arpit Ratan, Signzy: I believe that working with Mastercard will help us expand globally. They also bring a lot of value with the amount of historical knowledge they have and the markets they serve. Our partnership should help us solve for greater challenges, to understand the next generation problems. Mastercard is already seeing these and we can envision being able to solve them in the future. That's one of the biggest takeaways for me.

Zahir Khoja, Mastercard: Our immediate goal is to scale on the success that we've built with Signzy. There are multiple other use cases that we're getting questions and demand for internally. You look at trends like authentication and verification -- things that Signzy does very well in its onboarding today -- and we see multiple use cases. I see financial institutions wanting to use this to open up accounts online, and that's great. It enables more financial inclusion in various markets. There are so many use cases and the possibilities are quite endless.

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