UBA, MasterCard partner to boost financial inclusion in Africa

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United Bank for Africa

In a development to further deepen financial inclusion in Africa, United Bank Africa (UBA) and MasterCard have partnered to see UBA as the issuer for MasterCard in 19 new markets across the continent.

Currently, financial inclusion has been predominantly centred 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.

However, this new partnership, which is a five year deal came into effect in the second quarter of 2016, and will see UBA issue MasterCard credit, debit and prepaid cards across these markets.

The deal 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 19 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.

Commenting on this new development, Group Managing Director-Designate, UBA Plc., Kennedy Uzoka, said: “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”

Similarly, the 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.”

Consequently, the World Bank has said that there are approximately 2.5 billion people who are financially excluded. Access to financial tools creates economic empowerment and reduces poverty. MasterCard has the tools and resources – including potential partnerships – to drive real change today.

Since June this year, MasterCard has 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.