Airtel Africa, a provider of telecommunications and mobile money services, has announced a partnership with Mastercard, a technology company in the global payments industry, that will give over 100 million Airtel Africa mobile phone users across 14 African countries access to Mastercard’s global network.
Airtel Africa Chief Executive Officer Raghunath Mandava said the partnership will enable its over 100 million African customers make safe mobile money purchases online and in person.
“This partnership is truly revolutionary in our market, giving millions of people better access to the digital and online world,” Mr Mandava said.
A Mastercard virtual card will allow customers using the Airtel Money service, even those without a bank account, to make payments to local and global online merchants that accept Mastercard cards, while ensuring that the customer’s financial data is always secure and private.
In addition, Airtel Money customers will also be able to make in-person payments at outlets via quick response (QR) codes. In this case, payments are made from an Airtel mobile phone by scanning the QR code displayed at checkout, or by entering a merchant identifier, at any location worldwide where Mastercard QR is accepted. There are over one million merchant locations across Africa that accept Mastercard QR payments.
MasterCard Middle East and Africa Executive Vice President for Market Development, Amnah Ajmal said the digital partnership is aimed at enabling consumers to enjoy seamless access to payments.
“We are very excited to partner with Airtel to lead the transition to digital by enabling access to their millions of consumers for online and in-person payments across the globe. Mastercard is uniquely positioned as a single technology provider to enable our digital partners like Airtel to transition seamlessly into digital,” he said.
Airtel Money says its customers will also benefit from competitive pricing and preferential exchange rates for international payments, and gain access to other domestically relevant use cases, including bill payments, merchant payments and value-added services such as cash management solutions.
Quite possibly this is a game-changer as this deal coems in the age of low-cost smartphones and the sales of smartphones is going up in Africa. Mobile internet connections are expected to grow rapidly in Africa due to low cost smartphones and high-speed GSM networks being rolled out by Mobile Network Operators like Airtel. This growth in internet connections is creating increased demand for digital content, social media, m-commerce even online education and a need to make online payments easily and securely by both banked and unbanked consumers.
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