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Mastercard, MTN Group launch virtual MoMo card for 13 African markets

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MTN Group and Mastercard have launched a prepaid virtual bank card for MTN Mobile Money (MoMo) customers across 13 markets in Africa, as well as a physical Mastercard companion card.

The two companies said the multi-market agreement "will set in motion a new era of collaboration" to connect millions of people and small businesses across Africa with digital tools to transact through secure mobile payments.

A virtual and physical Mastercard companion card will be added to every MoMo wallet allowing users access to over 100 million acceptance points worldwide.

With MTN's overall subscriber base at 290 million and 60 million active monthly MoMo wallets, the agreement covers MTN's operations in Benin, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Eswatini, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Republic of Guinea, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia.

The partnership will use Mastercard's technology and capabilities to support MTN's ambition to become Africa's largest fintech platform for both merchants and consumers.

Additionally, it will enable MoMo merchants to accept card payments, enhancing the platform's instant cross-border money remittance services and capabilities.

Small and midsized enterprise (SME) owners will be able to access solutions with the opportunity to set up an e-commerce shopfront, including QR enablement, tap-on-phone solutions and digital card acceptance.

Fintech investment

The announcement follows last month's $200 million investment by Mastercard into MTN's fintech business, which the groups confirmed was concluded earlier this month.

The fintech investment deal was originally announced in August but at the time MTN didn't say how big the investment would be.

MTN's fintech offering includes mobile money, insurance, airtime lending and e-commerce.

MTN's fintech business saw the volume of transactions increase by 37% to 8.3 billion for the six months ended June 30, 2023. Meanwhile fintech service revenue grew by 21.7% year-on-year.

Financial inclusion goals

Over the past five years, Mastercard and MTN have collaborated on several mobile money programs across Africa, helping people to make payments through global platforms.

"Our innovation strategy is based on collaboration," said Amnah Ajmal, Mastercard executive vice president for market development for EEMEA. "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."

A virtual and physical Mastercard bank card will be added to every MTN MoMo wallet allowing users access to over 100 million acceptance points worldwide.   (Source: Image by wayhomestudio on Freepik)
A virtual and physical Mastercard bank card will be added to every MTN MoMo wallet allowing users access to over 100 million acceptance points worldwide.
(Source: Image by wayhomestudio on Freepik)

MTN said that Africa is home to over 1.3 billion people and only about 43% are banked, with over 90% of all payments and transactions made via cash. Meanwhile, of the total population, about 45% have mobile money accounts.

The collaboration aims to strengthen local infrastructure for digital payments, support potential expansion of transactions in the future and drive financial inclusion through access to assets.

"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," said Serigne Dioum, group CEO for MTN Fintech.

The GSMA's 2023 State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money showed that US$3.45 billion was transacted daily via mobile money in 2022.

Mastercard has pledged to bring 1 billion people and 50 million SMEs into the global digital economy by 2025 and works with multiple telecommunications network companies across the continent and globally.

Follow Connecting Africa on our new X account @connect__africa to get the latest telecoms and tech news across Africa.

At Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2024 in Barcelona, Spain, last week MTN made a number of partnership announcements, including the news that Ericsson would modernize its core networks in South Africa and Nigeria over the next five years, as well as a deal to advance sustainability, digital skills and education across the continent. It also said it was launching an Innovation Technology Lab in South Africa with Huawei.

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*Top image is of Serigne Dioum, group CEO for MTN Fintech, and Amnah Ajmal, Mastercard executive vice president for market development for EEMEA. (Source: Mastercard)

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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