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The partnership is set to launch a prepaid virtual card tailored for MTN’s MoMo customers, granting them access to over 100 million acceptance points worldwide. (Image source: MTN Group)

Mastercard and MTN Group Fintech have embarked on a multi-market partnership to advance the mobile money ecosystem across 13 African markets

This collaboration aims to connect millions of individuals and small businesses with digital tools for secure mobile transactions, fostering access to the advantages of a cashless digital economy.

Leveraging Mastercard's advanced technology, this partnership supports MTN's ambition to become Africa's leading fintech platform for both merchants and consumers. The recent agreement includes a minority investment by Mastercard into MTN Group Fintech, solidifying their commitment to the digital financial services arm of Africa's largest mobile network operator.

With MTN boasting a subscriber base of 290 million and 60 million active monthly Mobile Money (MoMo) wallets, the impact of this partnership will span 13 markets, including 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. We are very proud of our partnership with MTN that will enable digital commerce for millions of people in Africa. In addition, 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,” said Amnah Ajmal, executive vice-president, market development EMEA, Mastercard.

Africa, home to over 1.3 billion people, currently has only 43% of its population banked, and more than 90% of transactions are conducted in cash. However, 45% of the population has mobile money accounts. Over the past five years, Mastercard and MTN have collaborated on various mobile money programmes across Africa, bringing more individuals into the financial mainstream.

“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,” remarked Serigne Dioum, group CEO, MTN Fintech.

Enabling global access for MoMo wallet users

A pivotal aspect of this collaboration involves adding a virtual and physical Mastercard companion card to every MoMo wallet. This strategic move will grant users access to over 100 million acceptance locations worldwide, thereby enabling MTN to scale up its international footprint. In addition to facilitating global access, Mastercard will contribute its cybersecurity solutions to fortify MTN's operations, aiming to increase customer loyalty and trust.

Empowering SMEs with payment acceptance solutions

Under this agreement, SMEs will gain access to payment acceptance solutions, including Mastercard's SME-in-a-Box. This cost-effective payments solution empowers small business owners to transition their operations online and accept a variety of digital payments from customers. The initiative aims to enhance customer experience, reduce business costs, and create new opportunities for growth and innovation.

Expanding reach for remittance solutions

The partnership extends the reach of mobile money remittance services for consumers, encompassing both inward and cross-border transactions within Africa. With the demand for international remittance services surpassing US$2bn in daily processed transactions, equivalent to over 40% of the GDP of sub-Saharan Africa, this collaboration is poised to address a critical need. International remittances via mobile money wallets witnessed a 65% year-over-year growth in 2020, reaching around US$1bn, showcasing the substantial impact of mobile financial services in the region.