MasterCard Continues Africa Push with Equity Bank Partnership (Jan. 15, 2013)
Jan. 15, 2013
MasterCard has inked a deal with Kenya’s Equity Bank to issue new debit and prepaid cards over the next 18 months. The 5 million new cards will be equipped with PayPass contactless technology and EMV chips, and are set to roll out initially in Kenya, followed by Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Sudan. Equity Bank is the first in Africa to issue PayPass-equipped cards, the bank said. As part of the program, Equity will overhaul all POS systems it has issued to enable PayPass acceptance. Smaller retailers who lack traditional POS equipment will be issued PayPass-compatible mobile devices. To encourage adoption of the new system, such merchants will not be charged a transaction fee, according to Equity.
Prepaid card providers have been increasingly active in Africa, where a combination of factors—including large underbanked and unbanked populations, rapidly emerging economies and technological advances—have made for what many in the industry consider a fertile ground for prepaid expansion. MasterCard has been particularly active on the continent, recently launching a new mobile-linked prepaid offering under its Mobile Money Partnership Program, a GPR card in Botswana from U.K.-based Prepaid Financial Services Ltd. and a new prepaid loyalty program in Kenya from retailer Nakumatt set to reach more than 1 million of the merchant’s customers.