Mastercard has aggressive goals-and has failed to show how they will meet them. That’s one of several reasons for the card brand’s reliance-nay, dependence-on payment facilitators. PFs are not helpful to MC’s strategy: They are the only thing that gives it a chance to work.

Payment facilitators are absolutely crucial to Mastercard’s stated goal of adding 40 million micro and small merchants to its base in five years.
Banks can’t provide the tech necessary to onboard so large a number, says Double Diamond Group president Todd Ablowitz in this week’s podcast, and onboarding—speedy onboarding—is a specialty of payment facilitators.

“They’ve talked about bringing 500 million new consumers into the electronic financial world; those 500 million consumers need somewhere to use their cards,” Ablowitz says. “The areas that have the least penetration of electronic payments and that need financial inclusion initiatives the most, are areas outside the U.S. and outside the developed world, like the BRIC countries and developing areas where there’s not the same access to financial products, financial services as there are in the developed world.”

Regions targeted include Asia Pacific, Indonesia (55 million small business, the vast majority not using electronic payments), India. Eastern and Central Europe, and Latin America.

“If you’re going to bring in these very small merchants you have to do it efficiently, and payment facilitators like Square, Stripe, iZettle, Mswipe in India, they’ve shown they can onboard small, small merchants very inexpensively and very efficiently so they’re an excellent place to go to grow the merchant base and you can expect payment facilitators who have been on the rise will continue to be on the rise,” Ablowitz says.

Ablowitz says the void is quickly being filled also by new payment facilitator firms seizing the vast opportunity.

“We’ve seen staggering numbers just in the first half of 2016,” he says. “The growth would shock even the most tuned in veterans and it’s in all these regions.”