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How Mastercard built a startup platform to support R&D, business development and marketing


Build an outsourced R&D network

Strengthen customer relationships

Find potential customers


Launch a open innovation program

Scan 1000+ startups per year

Conduct partnership workshops with the top 3%


90 startups accepted to the program

26 partnerships or pilots signed to date

2 million program media impressions

The challenge

Mastercard saw the benefits of working with innovative startups, but wanted an original and meaningful way to engage the ecosystem. Mastercard already understood that startups can become leading-edge customers and suppliers–and they saw the branding and business development benefits of sharing startup insights with their R&D departments and their customers. But how could they create a distinctive engagement model that didn’t look like another corporate accelerator?

What we did

As fintech investors and startup founders, we knew from experience that corporate startup programs can waste participant’s time and money. But we also knew that, executed efficiently, startup programs could create a number of benefits, including publicity, credibility, and mutually beneficial partnerships.

To find the right approach, we started by gathering feedback from Mastercard’s customers. We interviewed five of the largest Nordic Banks, and then compared their needs to our conversations with more than 400 fintech founders. We used these combined insights to launch the program in 2018, but have since made more than a dozen changes to the program structure based on feedback we’ve received from participants. Three years and 24 feedback surveys later, we are proud of FINITIV, the program we continue to deliver.

Since inception, our program has added more than 3,120 Nordic & Baltic companies to our databases. Each year, our team reviews more than 1,000 startups and conducts diligence on the top 60. In the end, we invite 30 fintechs to participate in two workshops with Mastercard and its largest Nordic customers.

Unlike traditional accelerators, FINITIV is free for startups and Mastercard’s participating customers. To maximize the value of each participant’s time, our team books three meetings between startup CEOs and key bank stakeholders–but only require participants to attend the first meeting. In the end, we gather insights from all these meetings that we share as a trend and insight report with Mastercard’s customer network.

Meaningful results

To date, 17 participating fintechs have piloted solutions or signed partnerships with Mastercard’s bank customers. Nine have signed agreements with Mastercard. Aside from these tangible outcomes, our program has registered more than two million media impressions, and has been featured on stage at Slush and Money 20/20, and in global publications like FinExtra and Forbes.

Based on the results of the program, Mastercard selected Invenio to design and execute an additional startup program focused on sustainability. Lighthouse MASSIV launched in Copenhagen in 2020, and has since expanded to Sweden and Norway.