The UK's Emerging Payments Association (EPA) has announced the launch of the Catalyst, an incubator dedicated to early stage payments companies.

Backed by leading payment firms MasterCard and The Bancorp, the Catalyst aims to help scale 25 businesses by providing young entrepreneurs with access to investors, mentors and commercial partners.

Commenting on the initiative, Scott Abrahams, Head of Acceptance and Emerging Payments, at MasterCard, said:

"Startups within the payments industry often find it difficult to find the right level of guidance, education and support to help them develop their businesses. It is therefore refreshing to find this type of business guidance at the Catalyst and MasterCard is keen to lend its support."

Scott Abrahams, Head of Acceptance and Emerging Payments, at MasterCard

According to David Hunter, Advisory Board member of the EPA, the payments industry is "highly complex, rapidly changing, difficult to enter and it's easy to get it wrong."

"Access to an established network of like-minded payments professionals and a fee-free package that takes the risk - and angst - out of being a fintech payments entrepreneur is a winner for our 'Rising Stars'," he said in a release.

So far, six 'Rising Stars' have been chosen to integrate the program. These startups come from Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary and the UK, and include:

  • Cubits, a bitcoin wallet and merchant solutions business;
  • Cashwave, a EU-backed international remittance company;
  • DigiSeq, an NFC wearables business;
  • Pannovate, an augmented reality company;
  • Peak Financial Services, a financial services company focusing on the Central-Eastern European region;
  • W2, an online screening tools provider.

Tim Rehder, CEO at Cubits, said his team was "thrilled to be selected as one of the 'Rising Stars' of the Catalyst initiative," adding:

"Bitcoin is a powerful new technology enabling low transaction fees, the elimination of fraud, high security features and instant global money transfers. We believe it has a lot to offer the future payments landscape."

Cubits, a UK-based bitcoin wallet and merchant solutions provider, launched in January this year with the purpose of accelerating bitcoin buying in Europe.

Earlier this month, the startup made headlines when it announced it had concluded a partnership with non-profit fundraising service Wikando, to allow 900 charities around the world to accept donations in bitcoin. 

"We are always looking for ways to expedite the donation process, whether it’s making it faster, cheaper, more secure, or more readily accessible to anyone, anywhere," Peter Kral, Chief Technology Officer at Wikando, said in a release. "Accepting Bitcoin was the obvious choice, and Cubits helped us make this choice a reality."