Access to Mastercard

Mastercard Rules

The Mastercard Rules (or “Standards”) contain the access and eligibility criteria to become a licensee of the Mastercard scheme

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This section outlines the mandatory steps required for becoming a new licensee of Mastercard – also referred to as New Customer Onboarding  – and which confers to licensees the ability to use the Mastercard marks and offer any of Mastercard’s products and services. 

If you would like to become a Principal Licensee of Mastercard, or would like have an initial conversation, please send you initial enquiry to mcukbd@mastercard.com  or sales_prepaid@mastercard.com for prepaid.

Who can become an issuing and/Or acquiring licensee of Mastercard?

The Mastercard Rules outline the requirements for participation in the Mastercard scheme. Under Mastercard’s scheme rules, prospective customers may apply to become a Principal or an Affiliate customer.

A Principal customer participates directly in the activities of the Mastercard scheme. Affiliate customers participate indirectly in the activity of the scheme through the Sponsorship of a Principal customer. A Principal customer may sponsor one or more Affiliates, and is responsible for the settlement and other activities of its sponsored Affiliates. An Affiliate customer may not sponsor any other customer.

A financial institution applicant must be regulated and supervised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), and a license granted by the FCA, prior to applying for and being granted a license to operate under the Mastercard scheme. 

Step by step guide to becoming a principal licensee of Mastercard*

Step 1

A prospective customer wishing to join the Mastercard scheme should contact their business development representative in the first instance and send an enquiry via mcukbd@mastercard.com or sales_prepaid@mastercard.com.

Step 2

The prospective customer wishing to become a Principal licensee will be required to provide preliminary information, including:

  • Full legal name of the legal entity
  • Street address (including City, Location & Postcode)
  • Contact e-mail address (for the primary contact responsible for the application process)
  • Type of institution applying for a license

For an Affiliate application, the following information must also be submitted, in addition to the above:

  • Sponsor’s legal name
  • Brand licenses being applied for, including the related sponsor’s ICAs
  • Affiliate applicant’s contact e-mail address
  • Sponsor’s contact e-mail address (responsible for the application on behalf of the affiliate)

All preliminary information should be submitted via licensing-europe@mastercard.com

Step 3

Mastercard will send a notification e-mail to the application primary contact providing detailed instructions for setting up the web based Mastercard Connect (MC Connect) account.

Step 4

On receipt of the notification e-mail, the prospective customer will be required to set up a user name and password to access the New Customer Onboarding (NCO) Tool, within MC Connect.

Once the MC Connect account is setup for NCO Tool access, the customer will be notified via email that they have the access and can start with the filling of the application form online.

Step 5

The prospective customer completes the online application and submits directly through the New Customer Onboarding Tool via MC Connect. All required and supporting documentation must also be submitted at this stage to avoid any delays in reviewing and granting a license.

Required Supporting Documents:

  • Regulatory license (granted by the PRA)
  • Act of Incorporation / Articles of Association
  • Financial Statements (full 2 years)
  • Ownership Structure
  • Institution’s Anti Money Laundering Policy (for non-banking institutions)

Step 6

On receipt of the above, the full application will be evaluated from a Customer Risk Management and Anti-Money laundering (AML) perspective.

The Customer Risk Management evaluation involves a review of the financial strength of the applicant entity.  The review is based primarily on the financial data provided by the prospective licenses, but will take into account other information, including credit ratings where available.  Depending on the outcome of the review, the applicant may be required to provide collateral covering Mastercard’s risk exposure, which is estimated using the projected issuing and acquiring volumes included in the licence application.

Mastercard also conducts an AML review of the applicant and estimates its AML programme in order to protect the Mastercard network from being used to facilitate money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities. The Applicant’s AML programme must comply with Mastercard requirements, which are fully outlined as part of the application process.

Mastercard may determine that further information is necessary to confirm that a customer does not pose a risk to Mastercard when failing to comply with the Standards. This evaluation may include, but is not limited to, a request for detailed information about one or more of the following: the customer, its activities, its AML procedures and controls, or the identity of its owners, directors, and senior executives.

New Applicant Due Diligence Standards (Mastercard Anti-Money Laundering and Sanctions)

Step 7

When AML and Risk requirements are approved, final approval will then be granted for the Licence. Mastercard will communicate a License approval confirmation via e-mail to the primary contact who has submitted the application.

Thereafter, an Approval letter, signed License Agreement, and Summary of the Licenses Granted (which mentions the respective activity license under a Mastercard brand and the effective dates, the license is granted for) will be sent to the customer’s postal address

*Note

The steps outlined above do not take account of pre application activity which may involve commercially sensitive dialogue and may give rise to the bi-lateral protection of information prior to a Mastercard licence being granted.

Furthermore, the above do not highlight the activities leading to technical implementation of projects (including testing and certification) which are required for issuing Mastercard branded products or acquiring Mastercard branded transactions. Mastercard provides operational and technical support (from comprehensive documentation to dedicated project management) to ensure that licensees can commence live activity as required. Once a project has been initiated and resources assigned, key activities are schedule which involve the online authorisation validation to ensure the correct profile has been established for the customer and chosen products.  During the life cycle of the project some of the key activities involved are:

  • Overall Project Plan (including roles and responsibilities)
  • Project Reporting & Progress Meetings
  • Escalation Procedures
  • Quality Management Activities
  • Configuration Management
  • Change Control
  • Issues & Project Risk Management

Q&A

  1. Who can apply to become a direct customer or licensee of Mastercard?
    Please refer to the Mastercard Rules for a full description on eligibility to be a customer of Mastercard. The regulatory license issued by the regulatory authority (Electronic Money institution (EMI), Payment Institution (PI) or Financial Institution determine the appropriate activity license with Mastercard.

  2. How long will the license application process take?
    The timeframe of a license application - from initial enquiry to confirmation of a license being granted - will depend on a number of factors. The accuracy of the original application and provision of supporting documentation will impact the overall timeframe but a general guide would be 8-10 weeks.

  3. What are Mastercard’s Anti Money Laundering requirements?
    Mastercard’s requirements include, but are not limited to:
    • Thorough client identification and due diligence
    • Record-keeping of such identification and due diligence
    • Appropriate limitations on anonymous activities
    • Client activity monitoring to detect suspicious activity
    • Steps to be taken when suspicious activity is detected
    • An audit process to test controls
    • Compliance with U.S. sanctions programs

  4. How soon before we can start issuing cards to customers?
    A project to ‘go live’ and start issuing cards will generally take 6-8 months. Mastercard will assign a project manager to each implementation project and will work closely with the customer to guide them through each stage.