How Does Mastercard Send Work?

How Does Mastercard Send Work?

In today’s digital payments landscape, consumers seek fast, straightforward ways to pay for goods and services. Person-to-person (or P2P) payments are thriving, with major providers including PayPal and Venmo expanding their user bases.  

In June 2022, financial research firm Lending Tree surveyed almost 1,200 US consumers. According to the survey results, 84% of consumers have used a person-to-person payment service at least once. In fact, 44% use a P2P service at least once every week.

The Mastercard Send payments management service facilitates domestic and international P2P payments. In this article, you’ll learn how it works and how to get started.

Mastercard Send_P2P Payments_Infographic

What Is Mastercard Send?

Mastercard Send is Mastercard’s offering in the real-time personal payments arena. Senders can immediately make “push payments” to bank accounts, mobile wallets, prepaid debit cards, or targeted cash-out locations. The sender can initiate a Mastercard Send transaction with just the recipient’s debit card number.

The Mastercard Send Program facilitates secure money transfers through three payment mechanisms:

  • Disbursements: Government, business, and non-profit payments direct to cardholders
  • Domestic person-to-person (or P2P): In-country payments from one consumer to another
  • Cross-border P2P: Cross-border payments between two consumers, each in a different country. Remittances are an example of cross-border P2P payments.
Mastercard Send_Payment Mechanisms_Infographic

Mastercard Send funds transfers don’t depend on a bank’s Automated Clearing House Network (or ACH Network). Therefore, the recipient doesn’t need to provide their bank’s routing number and account number to receive their funds.

In the United States, Domestic P2P and Disbursements providers can access Mastercard Send APIs. If a service provider wants to initiate cross-border payments from the United States, a Remittance API is available.

Mastercard Send rollout draws marketplaces’ attention

In 2015, Mastercard decided to enter the instant payment solutions arena, launching the Mastercard Send payments management service. Listed on the New York Stock Exchange (or NYSE), this multinational firm incorporated its financial services infrastructure into the product.

A Mastercard Send press release would have touted the service’s ability to access most U.S.-based debit card accounts. Mastercard would have also boasted about Mastercard Send’s ability to make domestic and international payments and disbursements.

How Does It Work?

The Mastercard Send Program enables businesses, financial institutions, and digital merchants to execute money transfers for customers. Domestic payments often go to U.S. debit card accounts and prepaid cards.

Mastercard Send sharply contrasts with slow, batch-based ACH payments.  In terms of speed, Mastercard Send utilizes debit networks to send digital payments, usually within seconds. All money transfers should be completed within 30 minutes.

A service provider initiates a transfer via multiple APIs through a sending financial institution or acquirer. Next, Mastercard routes these funds to any U.S.-based bank account’s branded debit card. With Mastercard Send, near-real-time payments for service invoices or insurance claims are simple.

Each Mastercard Send transaction involves four distinct steps:

  1. The payment initiator obtains the recipient’s debit card details. These include their full name, debit card number for their bank account and the card’s expiration date.
  2. The payment initiator temporarily parks the funds in its financial institution’s settlement account. This bank then sends the transaction directions to Mastercard through the Send API.
  3. Mastercard sends the payment details to the correct debit network.
  4. The funds are deposited into the recipient’s bank account at the receiving financial institution. The payment initiator and recipient receive notification of the completed transaction.

The Pros and Cons of Mastercard Send

The Mastercard Send product is part of the trusted Mastercard payment network that facilitates countless secure payment experiences daily. All Mastercard Send transactions fall under similar regulatory compliance as a Mastercard credit card or debit card transaction.

Pros of Mastercard Send

  • Suitable for peer-based payments, small business and merchant money transfers, and other applicable transactions
  • Access to virtually every debit card account (including those linked to Visa and other brands)
  • Almost-real-time transactions, usually completed in seconds
  • Instant deposit into the recipient’s account with no need for supporting data
  • All Mastercard Send transactions are backed by Mastercard’s solid reputation

Cons of Mastercard Send

  • U.S. P2P payments and disbursements are restricted to debit card accounts
  • No central source for transaction details or rates and fees information
  • Customers cannot contact Mastercard directly about issues. The customer must contact a third party (such as the bank)

What Are the Costs to Use the Service?

Like all payment service types, the transaction costs depend on the participating parties’ fees. Mastercard Send provides payments management services, rather than executing money transfers. Companies such as Western Union, MoneyGram, and Wise actually transfer the funds. Therefore, Mastercard Send does not charge a transfer fee for its services.

Mastercard Send_Costs_Infographic

The card-issuing banks (also called card issuers or issuers) apply their own proprietary fees for these transactions. In addition, the business, government entity, or other organization will charge its own fees for money transfers. The transactions are considered partnerships, and each party plays a role.

The role of exchange fees

Many Mastercard Send recipients receive payment in a foreign currency. When the payment converts to their local currency, the recipient pays a fee related to the exchange rate.

International companies may charge a convenience fee when executing instant cross-border payouts. Customers should perform their due diligence on fees before choosing a money transfer provider.


New technology adoption is easier when potential users have the information they need. Here are answers to four frequently asked questions about Mastercard Send.

Who should use Mastercard Send?

Mastercard Send will appeal to three major user groups. First, many technology-savvy consumers want to send (and receive) digital payments regardless of their financial institution status. Disbursers are seeking efficient, cost-effective methods of sending payouts to recipients.

Finally, many consumers want to send cross-border payments (including remittances) to foreign recipients. These payment initiators will likely gravitate to Mastercard Send.

What payment methods can you use?

Mastercard Send providers offer clients three main money transfers options:

  • Domestic P2P payments: In-country payments between two consumers, businesses, or government entities
  • Cross-border P2P payments: International money transfers between two parties
  • Disbursements: Payments from companies, governments, or charities to consumers

Mastercard Send cross-border payment methods include:

  • Debit card deposits
  • Bank transfers
  • Mobile wallets
  • Cash pick-up service (at designated locations)

Does it support international money transfers?

Yes, Mastercard Send supports international money transfers. This payments platform collaborates with banks, businesses, marketplaces, and digital wallets in more than 210 countries. Mastercard Send payments are executed in numerous currencies. Most international payments take place in North America, Europe, and Asia.

How do you get started?

Mastercard Send does not maintain its own payments platform but instead offers services to numerous external banks. Consumers who want to send and/or receive money transfers must work with a reputable provider. Refer to the following generic “get started” guide.

Sending a money transfer

  1. Sign up with a Mastercard Send provider.
  2. Deposit funds into the account via a debit card payment or bank transfer.
  3. Proceed to the money transfer page. Enter the recipient’s payment details.
  4. Execute the transaction by pushing the “Send” button. Wait for the transaction confirmation.

Receiving money transfer proceeds

  1. Choose a Mastercard Send provider or log in to an existing account.
  2. Enter the payment information, including the payment currency and transaction display method. Send these details to the payment initiator.
  3. Wait for confirmation of the transaction

Choosing the Right Payment Solutions Partner

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Through the Mastercard Send API, full-service merchant services providers can participate in Mastercard Send money transfers. Payment Depot can seamlessly process these transactions along with its daily Mastercard purchases and sales.

The Payment Depot membership pricing plan, and lack of nuisance fees, will help small businesses save money on their transactions. Payment Depot also offers superior customer service to customers in many industries. For more details, contact our award-winning customer service team today.

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