Kenya’s Equity Bank has entered into a joint venture with global payments leader MasterCard in a deal that will see five million credit and debit cards released into the local market to encourage cashless and contactless transactions nationwide.
The partnership, the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa, will see the use of MasterCard’s PayPass technology, which uses Near Field Communication (NFC).
MasterCard said that the NFC technology is 25 percent faster than the process of swiping cards. The technology is similar to the BebaCard introduced by Google to cater for cashless transport payments.
MasterCard launches into a market that has been virtually dominated by Visa, particularly in the prepaid section. The partnership will make MasterCard more competitive as Equity Bank holds over half the bank accounts in the country.
“MasterCard is committed to extending financial inclusion across East Africa and the rest of the continent, introducing the unbanked and under-banked to the benefits of electronic payments,” said Ajay Banga, MasterCard President and CEO. “Our vision of a world beyond cash is only achievable through collaborations with industry stakeholders, such as the Equity Bank partnership.”
Only 8.6 million users hold Visa and MasterCards cards in Kenya, just 15 percent of the banked population.
Dr. James Mwangi, Group CEO Equity Bank commented: “Our commitment is to continue innovating financial products and services that give our customers the freedom of modern banking while supporting their social economic dreams.
“We will continue to align our financial intermediation with national strategies in every market we operate. The partnership with MasterCard will help to solidify our position as one of the leading banks in East Africa.”
Equity Bank’s investment in a robust IT platform continues to pay dividends as the bank ventures into strategic partnerships such as this with a view to becoming a one-stop shop for financial services in the region.