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MWC 2024: Mastercard, MTN, mobilise money across Africa

The partnership will drive acceleration of the mobile money ecosystem across 13 markets on the continent.

Following a recently announced investment by Mastercard into MTN Group Fintech, the two organisations this week unveiled a multi-market agreement across 13 African markets. 

Announced at Mobile World Congress in barcelona on Wednesday, the collaboration is intended to to connect millions of people and small businesses across Africa with digital tools to transact through secure mobile payments, expanding access to the benefits of the cashless digital economy.

The partnership will use Mastercard’s cutting edge technology and capabilities to support MTN’s ambition to become Africa’s largest fintech platform for both merchants and consumers. 

This follows Mastercard investment of $200-million into MTN Group Fintech, the digital financial services arm of Africa’s largest mobile network operator. Concluded earlier this month, the deal gives Mastercard a minority stake in MTN Group Fintech.

With MTN’s overall subscriber base at 290-million and 60-million active monthly MoMo (Mobile Money) wallets, the agreement will have an impact on 13 markets in Africa, namely Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Eswatini, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Republic of Guinea, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia.

“Our innovation strategy is based on collaboration,” said Amnah Ajmal, Mastercard executive vice president of market developmen for EEMEA. “Mobile money solutions can be greatly beneficial for SMEs, enabling growth through seamless commercial operations, wider payments acceptance, access to affordable credit, and secure digital tools.”

Africa is home to over 1.3 -million people and only about 43% are banked, with over 90% of all payments and transactions made via cash. Of the total population, 45% have mobile money accounts. Over the past five years, Mastercard and MTN have joined together to support several mobile money programs across Africa.

Serigne Dioum, group CEO of MTN Fintech, said: “When there is a mutual vision – in this case to bring access, progress, financial inclusion, and prosperity to people – the road to partnership is a simple one. We look forward to working with Mastercard as a partner that is also committed to the enablement of more people and businesses through the collaboration into best-in-class apps, superior user experiences, safe transactions, secure remittances, new use cases, and expanded acceptance.”

The collaboration is also intended to help strengthen local infrastructure for digital payments, support potential expansion of transactions in the future and drive financial inclusion through access to assets.

A virtual and physical Mastercard companion card will be added to every MoMo wallet, allowing users access to over 100-million acceptance locations globally enabling MTN to scale up internationally.

With this access, Mastercard will also be able to provide its cybersecurity solutions to MTN’s operations with the aim to increase customer loyalty and trust.

The agreement will enable SMEs with payments acceptance solutions such as Mastercard’s SME-in-a-Box, a low-cost payments solution that enables small business owners to move their businesses online and accept a range of digital payments from their customers.  

SME owners will now be able to access solutions with the opportunity to set up an e-commerce shopfront, including QR enablement, Tap on Phone solutions and digital card acceptance. This aims to further elevate customer experience, reduce business costs, and open new avenues for growth and innovation.

Remittance solutions

Through the partnership, consumers will have expanded reach for mobile money remittance services – both inward and cross-border remittances in Africa. The demand for international remittance services is growing with more than US$2-billion in daily processed transactions, equivalent to more than 40% of the GDP of Sub-Saharan Africa. International remittances via mobile-money wallets grew by 65% year over year in 2020 to around US$1-billion, with no signs of slowing.

Mastercard has pledged to bring 1-billion people and 50-million SMEs into the global digital economy by 2025.

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