Fast on the heels of Visa’s enhanced partnership with PayPal, Mastercard announced its acquisition of UK-based VocaLink, a real-time payments platform.  The move expands Mastercard’s ecosystem beyond traditional card-based payments into market space occupied by the likes of PayPal and its Venmo direct payments platform.

Mastercard points out that ACH-based transfers represent 50% of payments volume and it sees an opportunity to leverage existing infrastructure and relationships with consumers and merchants. The direct payments model operates on extremely thin margins and the economic model is much more difficult.  Mastercard’s scale could overcome these concerns.

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