MasterCard searches Africa for opportunity

MasterCard Worldwide CEO, Ajay Banga, concluded a weeklong trip around Africa last week in what marks the growing significance of the continent to global players.

The trip covered some of the major markets including South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria where Mastercard is looking to capture booming commercial opportunities. Rising incomes and a bulking middle class have seen an explosion of opportunities across the continent more so for financial service players like Mastercard.

In South Africa MasterCard is working with SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) which is rolling out banking cards to millions of grant receivers. Banga met with South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene to discuss the importance of the financial sector and government working together.

A significant portion of the African population remains unbanked and the increasing penetration of mobile phone penetration promises to bridge this gap.

A Mastercard statement noted that 80 percent of sub-Saharan Africa is unbanked and the region‘s financial services sector is projected to grow 40 percent by 2020.

Seven out of ten of the world’s fastest-growing economies will be in Africa by 2015. Africa has surpassed Europe in the number of mobile phones and the US in number of cell phone users. The statement also noted that    61% of Kenyans use mobile phones to send money.

Collaborating with local government officials, financial institutions, businesses and citizens, he shared his thoughts on a cashless society and vision of a world beyond cash.

Banga addressed Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) officials and other business leaders in Abuja, Nigeria. In his address, Mr. Banga acknowledged CBN’s Cashless Policy as the driving force behind the reform in the country’s electronic payments sector over the past two years

Banga also attended a signing ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya to announce an agreement between MasterCard and Equity Bank of Kenya to issue five million MasterCard-branded debit and prepaid cards.

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