Unsubstantiated reports suggest that MasterCard has approached the banking owners of VocaLink about a £1 billion takeover of the UK payments processor.
News of MasterCard's interest comes just a week after the UK's Payments Systems Regulator said that banks should sell their stakes in VocaLink to help increase innovation and competition in the nation's critical payments infrastructure.
According to Sky News, MasterCard has hired Citibank to advise it on the approach.
Citing 'people close to the company' Sky News says Mastercard is keen to acquire at least a partial stake in VocaLink to diversify its payments business.
In the UK, VocaLink processes over 90% of salaries, more than 70% of household bills and almost all state benefits. Nearly every business and person in the UK uses its technology and last year the company processed over 11 billion transactions with a value of £6 trillion.
The PSR believes that the common ownership of VocaLink by a small number of banks is having a "negative impact on innovation and competition in the industry".