The United Bank for Africa (UBA) and MasterCard have signed a five year partnership agreement to issue MasterCard credit, debit and prepaid cards across 19 new markets in Africa, including Liberia.
Other countries are Nigeria; Benin; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Chad; La Cote D’Ivoire; Democratic Republic of Congo; Equatorial Guinea; Ghana; Gabon; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Mozambique; Republic of Congo; Senegal; Sierra Leone; and Uganda.
Commenting on the agreement, Kennedy Uzoka, UBA Group Managing Director designate, whose statement was contained in a release issued last evening, said the partnership came into effect in the second quarter of 2016, based on UBA acting as the issuer for MasterCard in countries where they are currently operating.
He said the deal will focus on increased payments infrastructure, including the roll out of point-of-sale and mobile-point-of-sale technology to ensure businesspeople are able to accept the cards when introduced into these markets.
“As the needs of our customers change, we are adapting through strategic innovations and partnerships to provide them with excellent and convenient services. Through these strategic partnerships, we are able to accelerate the drive for financial inclusion and economic well-being across the African continent,” he said.
Quoting the World Bank indicator, Mr. Uzoka said there are approximately 2.5 billion people who are financially excluded. He further said access to financial tools creates economic empowerment and reduces poverty. Based on that, “UBA MasterCard has the tools and resources–including potential partnerships–to drive real change today.”
To date, “financial inclusion has been predominantly centered on providing the underserved and the unbanked with tools and transaction accounts. This remains a critical need with two billion unbanked people, the majority of whom are women, forced to operate in a cash economy. In order for financial inclusion efforts to truly have an impact, there needs to be an equal focus on both access and usage,” he said.
He recalled that on June 27, 2016, MasterCard set a goal to connect 40 million micro and small business entrepreneurs to its electronic payments network within five years, a goal based on the company’s Universal Financial Access 2020 commitment made last year.
MasterCard Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa Daniel Monehin said the agreement also focuses on infrastructure and the roll out a number of easy-to-access solutions, which is a key part of driving financial inclusion and move away from cash in these markets.
He said MasterCard’s continued innovation in the payments space, coupled with UBA’s extensive pan-African network, “will mean the introduction of increased competition and a stronger financial sector in these regions.”
“Collaborating with UBA has allowed for maximum impact when it comes to changing lives and introducing smarter ways for people to pay in Africa. Creating financially inclusive societies is dependent on these kinds of partnerships and we will continue to look for ways to partner in Africa going forward,” Monehin said.
He said, “We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.”
MasterCard is a technology company in the global payments industry.