MasterCard and Equity Bank of Kenya today announced an agreement at a signing ceremony in Nairobi to issue five million MasterCard-branded debit and prepaid cards, over the next 18 months.
This program empowers African consumers to use electronic payments which provide a safe and secure way to pay, versus cash and other forms of payment.
As a result of the partnership, MasterCard debit and prepaid cards with chip-enabled technology will be issued, first into the Kenyan market and then extended into Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Sudan, signaling the largest rollout of EMV payment cards in sub-Saharan Africa to date. The cards will also introduce MasterCard PayPass with the first ever installation of PayPass enabled point of sale terminals across the region.
The suite of products that will be made available in the East African region will include Mobile Point of Sale (MPOS) technology which allows merchants to receive payments via low cost add-ons linked to secure applications on their mobile devices (such as a smart phone or tablet). This technology will extend the security and convenience of electronic payments to merchants and their customers who previously depended on cash to transact.
"MasterCard is committed to extending financial inclusion across East Africa and the rest of the continent, introducing the unbanked and under-banked to the benefits of electronic payments", said Ajay Banga, MasterCard president and CEO. "Our vision of a world beyond cash is only achievable through collaborations with industry stakeholders, such as the Equity Bank partnership. Working together with governments, financial institutions, merchants and businesses, we will be able to help modernize the payment industry in East Africa," Banga concluded.
According to the Finscope Rwanda 2012 survey, financial exclusion in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda stands at 33%, 30%, 56% and 28.1% respectively, indicating the opportunity for both Equity Bank and MasterCard to extend financial inclusion to those previously not exposed to the benefits of electronic payment solutions.
Dr. James Mwangi, CEO and Managing Director of Equityy Bank commented, "We aim to support East African governments in achieving their goals for greater financial inclusion. The partnership with MasterCard will help to solidify our position as one of the leading banks in East Africa. Working with various Central Banks across the region is essential to understanding these goals and designing tailor made solutions for each market. The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) for example estimates that if financial institutions in the region reached the estimated 12 million Kenyans who currently have no access to formal financial services, approximately KES 300 billion (3.5 billion USD) will be added to the formal banking system."
"We have chosen MasterCard as our partner due to the fact that we have a shared vision of an East Africa that is more financially inclusive for all its citizens and less dependent on cash. Cardholders will be able to use their MasterCard PayPass debit or prepaid cards at any location that accepts MasterCard worldwide. Special promotional offers will be announced during the rollout of the campaign," Mwangi concluded.
Globally, PayPass is present in 48 countries and accepted at nearly 550,000 merchant locations. MasterCard cards are accepted at more than 34 million points around the world.
The partnership between MasterCard and Equity Bank is part of the payments solutions provider's goal of increasing its business in the region by providing added value to more customers, while at the same time encouraging the uptake of cashless transactions in the region as envisioned in its pursuit of a cashless global economy.