U.S. credit card giant Mastercard has become increasingly involved in the African tech and payments space, investing millions of dollars to buy a stake in African companies while agreeing to partnerships with African firms.
Mastercard competitor Visa has followed its rival’s lead in Africa. In November, Visa paid $200 million for a 20 percent stake in Nigerian payments processor Interswitch in a deal that confirmed the Nigerian firm’s unicorn status.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the largest market globally for mobile payments. There are more mobile money accounts than bank accounts in some African countries and this is the opportunity that Mastercard aims to capture when it partners with African companies to provide payment solutions.
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Here are 10 African payments firms that have partnered with Mastercard.
Zambian fintech firm Zazu Limited partnered with Mastercard in November 2019 to launch a mobile wallet that supports an app-based prepaid account — with or without a bank account. The agreement enables Zazu users to transfer funds, withdraw cash at ATMs, shop at merchants using quick response (QR) codes or online without sharing their primary card or account information with merchants, according to ITNewsWeb.
In December 2019, South African financial inclusion platform uKheshe enhanced its offering to the unbanked by collaborating with Mastercard to enable informal traders, street vendors, and casual laborers to accept digital payments through Masterpass, Mastercard’s digital payment service, according to IOL. No bank account is required to use uKheshe. Users make and receive payments by using a quick response (QR) code card and a smartphone app.
In 2018, Nigerian payments platform Flutterwave raised a $10 million Series A investment from a number of investors including Mastercard, according to Techpoint. The startup provides transaction infrastructure for mobile payments. Flutterwave does business in South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.
In July 2019, South African mobile operator Vodacom joined forces with Mastercard to launch VodaPay Masterpass in South Africa. The new digital payment solution enables Vodacom customers to load bank card details into a digital wallet that can be downloaded as an app on a smartphone. The VodaPay Masterpass app allows users to buy prepaid mobile data and airtime, as well as pay bills, according to Businesstech.
In October 2019, mobile operator Airtel Africa and Mastercard kickstarted a partnership involving the extension of the payment giant’s global network to serve 100 million Airtel Africa mobile phone users across 14 African countries. The partnership means that Airtel Money customers, even those without a bank account, can now make online payments globally with their Airtel Money Mastercard virtual card, according to a press release.
In 2018, Mastercard and Kenyan pay-as-you-go solar energy provider M-Kopa partnered in an effort to expand solar opportunities for homes and businesses in Africa. The partnership saw M-Kopa piloting Mastercard’s quick response (QR code) payment technology in Uganda, with the aim of improving access to its pay-as-you-go solar service, according to a Mastercard press release.
In 2017, Mastercard and Africa-focused e-commerce firm Jumia partnered to deliver cashless e-commerce solutions for users to pay for goods more easily. At that stage, many Jumia customers paid cash for their purchases upon delivery, but the new partnership provided additional payment options for users in an effort to make cashless payments more prominent, according to AfricaBusinessCommunities.
In 2017, Nigerian fintech startup NetPlus worked alongside global payments giant Mastercard to develop a cashless e-commerce solution for the Nigerian market that was designed to be safe, transparent and efficient, according to a Mastercard press release. At the time, Omokehinde Adebanjo, vice president and area business head for West Africa at Mastercard said: “Cash has held the sector back from reaching its full potential in Africa. We have invested a great deal of energy and resources to develop a workable solution that will meet the diverse needs of merchants and consumers across the continent.”
In December 2019, Mastercard selected seven fintech startups to take part in its Mastercard Start Path program, a six-month virtual program designed to provide opportunities for the startups to scale and secure strategic investments. One of the seven chosen startups is Kasha, a Kenya and Rwanda-based e-commerce platform for women’s health and personal care in East Africa, according to a press release. Kasha uses an e-commerce model to avoid the stigma around contraceptives and sexual health that prevents women from accessing necessary products in the region.
In 2013, Mastercard partnered with South African telecommunications firm Blue Label Telecoms to equip 22,000 merchants and rural shops – many operated out of homes – with point-of-sale devices, allowing them to accept card payments for the first time, according to AllAfrica. Blue Label Telecoms provides thousands of point of sale terminals in South Africa, used mainly to sell prepaid vouchers for airtime and electricity. The point-of-sale devices allowed South African merchants to accept chip, PIN and contactless payment cards for goods and services.
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