Sharing information is important between card associations and service providers like payment facilitators and independent payment operators. In those relationships, information typically flows from the card brands to the acquirers, and then to service providers. Because of the multi-stop communication flow, answers to important questions can sometimes get stuck in an information traffic jam.
Fortunately, Mastercard has developed a remedy: its Network Enablement Partner program. This month, we will highlight this solution and how it opens up the lanes of communication. We will explain how the program started, how it works and where it’s headed as Mastercard creates clearer communication through service provider engagement.
Now Mastercard is taking things to a new level for service providers.
The Starting Line
Our company’s first interaction with Mastercard was well over 10 years ago, when the credit card company began its Onsite Service Provider Review program. The name of the program has changed over the years, but the focus has always remained the same: reviewing how service providers onboard merchants, and how they conduct payment card industry (PCI) and anti-money-laundering (AML) compliance.
Reviews and audits are never fun, and getting word that you’re going to be reviewed by Mastercard can make you nervous, but all of our interactions with Mastercard have been pleasant. The main focus of the reviews we’ve undergone has always been to help our company be better. The review process examines the payment facilitator’s ability to support Mastercard customers, to ensure they can adhere to the minimum Mastercard fraud loss control program requirements and standards. A payment facilitator that fails a review may be subject to deregistration.
Six reviews later, I now actually look forward to them. The program has given us a direct channel to talk about what is working and what we find challenging. It has helped us and many others sort out regulations over the last decade, such as the payment facilitator regulations introduced in 2011 and the user-generated content updates that went into effect in 2020.
Leveling Up With Partnership
Now Mastercard is taking things to a new level for service providers. In 2021, Mastercard launched its Network Enablement Partner (NEP) program. This program gives service providers an opportunity to have a direct relationship with Mastercard, which can help drive speed to market for product innovation as well as optimize performance and operational efficiencies. Previously, the alternative was having to leverage the relationship of an acquirer.
Having a direct point of contact is key! The NEP engagement model is available to all registered service providers. Training and direct access information is also available through the Mastercard Academy. There are four different tiers for participation, from basic to premium, and each provides various products and services directly to NEPs.
Opening the Communication Lane
One benefit of the NEP program is that it allows you to reach out to Mastercard if you need to request a variance from the company’s traditional standards. For example, once a merchant exceeds $10 million in annual Mastercard volume, it is required to obtain its own merchant identification number (MID) and sign a tri-party agreement. However, for NEPs, this limit can be sidestepped so the merchant can continue to process on the payment facilitator platform. This extra volume allowance enables payment facilitators to stay in the funds flow and continue to support content creators and affiliate payouts.
There is also a Network Enablement Partner Advisory Council. This offers payment service providers a seat at the table, to share concerns and wishes with Mastercard and other NEPs in order to help improve Mastercard’s network and service offerings. As an NEP, you can join quarterly innovative and strategic conversations with Mastercard on the future of payments.
We all get bogged down with ever-changing regulations and card brand requirements, but the more open communication facilitated by the NEP program makes it much easier to navigate. I applaud Mastercard for being progressive by offering a way to better support its network of service providers, and encourage everyone in the payment space to take advantage of the opportunity.
Cathy Beardsley is president and CEO of Segpay, a merchant services provider offering a wide range of custom financial solutions including payment facilitator, direct merchant accounts and secure gateway services. Under her direction, Segpay has become one of four companies approved by Visa to operate as a high-risk internet payment services provider. Segpay offers secure turnkey solutions to accept online payments, with a guarantee that funds are kept safe and protected with its proprietary Fraud Mitigation System and customer service and support. For any questions or help, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.