Airtel on Wednesday announced a partnership with Mastercard, giving over 100 million Airtel Africa mobile phone users across 14 African countries including Malawi access to Mastercard’s global network.
The Mastercard virtual (non-plastic) card allows Airtel Money customers, 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 (whereby 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 that Mastercard QR is accepted).
To date, there are over 1 million merchant locations across Africa that accept Mastercard QR payments.
Airtel Money 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 , merchants payments and value added services such as cash management solutions.
Raghunath Mandava, the CEO of Airtel Africa said: “Airtel and Mastercard have a shared passion for digital transformation and making mobile financial services accessible to everyone across the continent. Through our partnership we will enable over 100 million Airtel Africa customers make safe mobile money purchases online and in person.
“The partnership will also significantly bolster Airtel’s position as one of the the largest offline-to-online digital payment network in Africa. We are really excited to embark on this partnership with a globally trusted brand like Mastercard. This partnership is truly revolutionary in our market, giving millions of people better access to the digital and online world.”
Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President for Market Development, Mastercard Middle East and Africa, said, “Across the MEA region our digital partnerships strategy remains focused on enabling digital transformation for our partners so that their consumers can enjoy seamless access to payments and a superior experience. 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”.
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.