While not entirely abandoning the Libra Association like PayPal just yet, Mastercard is setting its sights on an alliance with a fintech startup to help disseminate debit cards to hourly workers.

The partnership is with Branch, a Michigan-based company that develops a financial wellness and employee benefits app. Mastercard and Branch's team-up will introduce a digital checking account and debit card to address the problems of hourly workers.

In 2018, 81.9 million workers age 16 and older in the United States were hourly workers, and they represent 58.5 percent of the total workforce, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. And plenty of those workers have no access to traditional banks because of the fees and minimum deposit requirements.

"Most traditional financial services actually make it more challenging for hourly workers to balance their finances, whether it's expensive overdraft fees or minimum balance requirements," Branch CEO Atif Siddiqi said.

"Given their income volatility and limited access to the support they need, we want to provide hourly workers a strong start on their financial journey and offer services that help them improve their financial wellness and save."

The employees who will get the Branch debit cards can get a portion of their earned wages ahead of their paycheck for free, making Branch the first to offer instant paycheck advances at zero cost. Users will also have the ability to deposit and receive their funds without any fees or minimum balance requirements.

"Mastercard recognizes work is changing and many people don't have salaried jobs that they stay at for long periods of time," said Sherri Haymond, EVP of Digital Partnerships for Mastercard. 

"No matter how you choose to work, Mastercard wants to make sure you can get paid and have access to your income in a way that makes more sense." 

In August, Mastercard acquired Danish payment-services provider Nets A/S for $3.19 billion, a move to improve their real-time payments and diversify payment capabilities. Mastercard had previously acquired Vocalink and Vyze -- both fintech companies.  And this latest partnership with Branch helps it remain relevant in the payments market against rising competition.

A MasterCard logo is seen on a door outside a restaurant in New York A MasterCard logo is seen on a door outside a restaurant in New York, Feb. 3, 2010. Photo: Reuters