UNITED Bank for Africa (UBA) and Mastercard have announced a partnership which will see UBA act as the issuer for MasterCard in 18 new markets in Africa. The partnership which came into effect in the second quarter of 2016 will see UBA issue Mastercard credit, debit and prepaid cards across these markets.
The partnership will also focus on increased payments infrastructure across Africa, including the roll out of point-of-sale and mobile-point-of-sale technology, to ensure merchants are able to accept the cards when introduced into these markets. Mastercard and UBA are partnering across the 21 African countries in which UBA currently operates: Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
“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 wellbeing across the African continent” said Group Managing Director-Designate, UBA plc, Kennedy Uzoka.
Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Mastercard, Daniel Monehin says; “This focus on infrastructure and the roll out of easy-to-access solutions is a key part of driving financial inclusion and a move away from cash in these markets. 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.”
According to the World Bank there are approximately 2.5 billion people who are financially excluded. Access to financial tools creates economic empowerment and reduces poverty.
On June 27, 2016, Mastercard set a goal to connect 40 million micro and small merchants to its electronic payments network within five years. This expands on the company’s Universal Financial Access 2020 commitment made last year. 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. “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.