The FINANCIAL -- One of the leading pan-African banking groups Ecobank Transnational Inc.on June 15 signed a landmark multi-country agreement with global payments technology company MasterCard to bring MasterCard’s payment solutions to more than 32 sub-Saharan African markets. It is a move that is expected to increase the acceptance and adoption of electronic payments in Africa.
A culmination of the multi-country licensing agreement signed by MasterCard and Ecobank in January 2014, this initiative will see Ecobank issue MasterCard debit, prepaid, and credit cards to millions of its customers over the next 10 years. Ecobank will also roll out innovative MasterCard acceptance solutions designed to expand the number of merchant locations that accept MasterCard payment cards on the continent, according to MasterCard.
Albert Essien, Group Chief Executive Officer of Ecobank, says: “This collaboration with MasterCard will enable us to achieve our vision of contributing to the economic and financial integration and development of the African continent by rolling out convenient, accessible and reliable financial products and services to our customers. Specifically, the initiative enables us to extend our MasterCard acquiring capabilities at thousands of merchants across Africa, grow our e-commerce acquiring business, and expand our service offerings to retail and commercial customers in Africa.”
Michael Miebach, President, Middle East and Africa at MasterCard, adds: “Bringing the benefits of electronic payments to markets across Africa and creating a world beyond cash is a primary focus for MasterCard. By collaborating with a leading pan-African financial institution such as the Ecobank Group with its extensive regional reach and established infrastructure, another successful step has been taken in ensuring access to safe, secure and convenient payments via MasterCard payment solutions.”
Over 1300 Ecobank subsidiaries will issue MasterCard-branded cards in Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Ecobank Nigeria, the largest of the Ecobank Group’s 36 African subsidiaries, already began large-scale issuing of MasterCard payment products in April 2014.
As a result of the agreement, cardholders will now be able to access their funds at millions of automated teller machines in Africa and worldwide. They will also be able to pay for products and services in 210 countries and territories where MasterCard payment cards are accepted today.
The agreement will also see Ecobank roll out thousands of mobile point of sale devices to retailers in selected African countries, further boosting Ecobank’s current pan-African network. Mobile point of sale devices allow merchants to process MasterCard payment card transactions by connecting their smartphone or tablet to a secure card reader, enabling them to overcome infrastructure and communication challenges that may arise when using traditional POS devices.
Ecobank will also introduce the MasterCard Payment Gateway Service in selected countries to enhance online commerce for Ecobank’s small and medium enterprise, commercial and corporate customers. The e-commerce payment technology enables merchants to accept MasterCard or other branded payment cards, extending the security and convenience of electronic payments to these e-tailers and their customers who previously depended on cash. It also brings an additional layer of online shopping security to cardholders through the implementation of 3D Secure technology.
“The increased number of MasterCard acceptance locations in Africa means that more consumers and merchants can enjoy the additional protection from the risks and costs associated with cash. This is especially important in Africa, where more than 90 percent of transactions are still conducted in cash,” says Miebach.