Mastercard: A World Beyond Cash

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Chris Bwakira, Vice President and Area Business Head at Mastercard.

With a proven track record as a reliable network in global electronic payments technology, Mastercard continues to lead the way in all aspects of cashless transactions

 

Much of the world’s population does not have access to a bank account or any other reliable way to store and access their money. They are reliant on cash and all the perils that come with it. Financial inclusion comes with the idea that everyone deserves the tools to participate in a growing economy. Whether that means a mobile payment system or a secure ID card, financial inclusion is essential to empowering individuals across the globe to support themselves and the community in which they live.

 

As a leading global payments technology firm, Mastercard has remained true to the philosophy of inclusion and empowering people to move to a world beyond cash. With a significant presence across the world, Mastercard has been able to build bespoke innovative tools both globally and locally.

“Being able to provide solutions that are built to better the lives of people and businesses, and add value to the economy as a whole comes down to a number of things,” says Chris Bwakira, Vice President and Area Business Head at Mastercard. “Firstly, the quality of our partnerships, which are demonstrated in markets such as Rwanda where we have partnered with the government to digitize payments in health care, education and pensions.”

“In Kenya, we have partnered with merchant aggregator Kopo Kopo with a reach in numerous markets in Africa. This partnership enables us to serve not only people in urban areas but communities in rural areas as well, and has given us the opportunity to widely roll-out Masterpass QR to merchants.”

“Secondly, we have gathered ample experience over the years on digital payments and seen first-hand how going digital can transform the way people transact and do business on a daily basis,” adds Bwakira. “The final facet is our ability to localise global services: merchants can carry out transactions wherever they are in the world.”

Financial Inclusion

As part of its commitment to creating a world beyond cash through more connected and inclusive payment ecosystems, Mastercard has put its weight behind delivering real solutions that make a noticeable and immediate impact.

Masterpass QR – the organisation’s mobile-driven, Person-to-Merchant (P2M) payment solution – has certainly lived up to that ideal and continues to gain momentum across Africa both in terms of allowing millions of micro, small and medium enterprises to accept quick and secure payments and in allowing customers to make safe and simple payments via mobile app.

First launched in 2016, the solution has since been rolled out to a number of markets across Africa, most notably Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana with various partners. One of the key strategic partnerships in Africa making great strides is with Ecobank, the agreement will ultimately result in Masterpass QR being rolled-out in 33 countries across Africa. These efforts form a core part of Mastercard’s strategy to develop more efficient payment systems that empower business owners and consumers.

Bwakira says, “Business owners, particularly of MSMEs, benefit from using Masterpass QR by no longer having to worry about the historic challenges of acceptance of electronic payments or the exorbitant cost of installing payment infrastructure such as point-of-sale devices. By driving acceptance for merchants, Masterpass QR facilitates operational efficiencies for MSMEs, which are the backbone of emerging market economies.”

Security

For Mastercard, delivering efficient, cost effective and above all secure acceptance solutions for merchants across Africa is an essential step to providing the level of support required to grow and develop businesses.

In an era of cybercrime, Mastercard is awake to the reality that criminals could steal information from merchants and commit financial fraud. But with a deep rooted history of investing in and innovating across multiple layers of technology – like EMV, tokenisation, physical and behavioural biometrics, and artificial intelligence – businesses and merchants can rest assured that their cash is safe.

“Securing the digital payment ecosystem is a big focus for us at Mastercard, and our aim is to deploy solutions that will keep consumers feeling safe, adding to the existing prevention, detection and identity tools already in place,” says Bwakira.

Mastercard’s latest initiative in the digital security space is a predictive tool to combat card fraud after data breaches – it is aimed at reducing the cost of fraud and protecting at-risk cardholders.

Innovation

Adding to Mastercard’s commitment to customer safety is the dedication to constant innovation at the company. Early this year, the company launched a digital platform connecting smallholder farmers with agents, buyers and banks in East Africa.

Dubbed 2Kuze, which means ‘let’s grow together’ in Swahili, the platform enables farmers to make and receive payments for agricultural goods via their feature phones. The platform brings the benefits and security of mobile commerce and payments to farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

2Kuze was developed at the Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion, which was set up in 2015 to develop practical and cost-effective financial tools that expand access and help build stable futures for more than 100 million people globally. Through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lab is working with East African entrepreneurs, governments and other stakeholders to develop local products rooted in the company’s global know-how.

 

“We believe that by using mobile, a technology that is so ubiquitous among farmers in Africa, we can improve financial access, bring in operational efficiency and facilitate faster payments. We created 2Kuze in our Lab in close collaboration with farmers, representatives from the government, farmer-led cooperatives and buying organisations,” says Bwakira.

“We are committed to developing market-relevant payment solutions that enhance the adoption of cashless transactions by building solid partnerships.”

In summary

Central to the ethos of Mastercard is connecting with local communities in a meaningful manner to help support them. Through its very own slogan ‘a world beyond cash’, Mastercard is advancing social sustainability by giving people around the world greater access to the financial system.

“We believe that how we do business is as important as what we achieve. We care about the communities in which we live, work and conduct business,” adds Bwakira.

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