Leading global payments company Mastercard has teamed up with Network international to launch a new digital payment platform, as they look to drive the use of commercial payments and solutions across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region.
The joint project builds on a long-standing partnership between both companies. In 2019, Mastercard made a strategic investment as a cornerstone investor in Network International. That was followed by an additional commitment of $35 million over a five-year period towards developing innovative payment solutions for consumers, to accelerate the adoption of cashless payments in the region.
Set to go live this month, the new Commercial Payment Platform will initially be available in 40 African countries, including Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Ghana, after which it will be extended across the rest of MEA in the coming months.
The digital platform, initially scheduled to launch in the last quarter of 2020, comes with a number of service offerings for businesses, allowing them to benefit from Mastercard’s suite of payment solutions.
It will offer business and corporate cards, travel cards, fleet cards and procurement cards, among other corporate payment solutions, to help businesses of all sizes across many sectors make the move to cashless and paperless payments.
Corporate clients will further be able to benefit from Mastercard’s In Control for Commercial Payments, an innovative platform that helps improve the user experience through the creation of an end-to-end virtual payment ecosystem, Network International said in a statement issued last November.
Accelerating digital payment adoption
Data cited by the companies shows that the annual commercial spend in the MEA region is more than $4 trillion, but a meagre 1% is currently done through payment cards.
Businesses are increasingly turning to digital and remote payments, however, driven by the need to minimise contact-based transactions amid the Covid-19 outbreak. Mastercard and Network International are keen to help accelerate this trend with the platform, which will “offer advanced new technologies so businesses can move from cash-based payments to an improved, frictionless and seamless ecosystem.”
The new platform will help Network International’s current client base of consumers and merchants switch to mobile-based payment solutions. Particularly, merchants can use multiple digital payment methods including USSD, Quick Response (QR code) to the standard POS, and eCommerce through contactless card payments and mobile money.
They will also be working with banks in the target region, enabling merchants to use payment solutions offered by payment issuers and banks. The range of services offered by the platform includes virtual cards, digital wallets, and person-to-person payments.
According to Gaurang Shah, Senior Vice President for Product Management, Digital Payments & Labs, MEA region at Mastercard, this is sure to have a huge positive impact on the merchants’ operations.
“Accelerated adoption of digital payments means more consumers and businesses are enabled to benefit from a growing digital economy and a world beyond cash,” Shah said. “Mastercard’s trusted, secure technology will be available to more people through this digital platform and we are very proud to activate this important initiative with Network International as our long-term strategic partner.”
Ameenah Hassan is an intern at Arbiterz.