Mastercard in partnership with M-KOPA Solar and Centenary Bank, celebrated the first ‘pay-as-you-go’ QR transaction this week, officially launching the initiative, which provides a simple and inexpensive way to power the homes and businesses of Ugandans. M-KOPA, which already provides affordable, safe and clean energy to three million people in East Africa has launched Mastercard’s Quick Response (QR) payment technology in Uganda to facilitate and extend the reach of its groundbreaking pay-as-you-go solar program.
The launch of the program took place in Entebbe and was attended by Ajay Banga, president and chief executive officer of Mastercard, who made a special visit to Uganda to be part of the milestone ceremony.
According to the United States Agency for International Development, Uganda has one of the lowest electrification rates in Africa, at 22 percent for 2017. The partnership will provide Ugandan homes and businesses with clean and reliable solar energy, access to information and finance for a range of productive assets.
M-KOPA’s life-changing products combine lights, mobile phone charging, radios, smart phones, TVs and fridges. To connect to M-KOPA and start to build their credit history, customers pay a deposit and then small daily payments towards electricity that are usually less than what they would have spent on kerosene, candles and batteries over the same period of time.
Developed by Mastercard Labs, the new Mastercard’s pay-as-you-go API solution will empower M-KOPA and Centenary Bank to bring new payment innovation to the market, combining low cost QR technology – an open and interoperable technology, with the Internet of Things (“IoT”) to lead more secure and efficient payments in the market. Customers are enabled to make payments from their mobile phones by scanning a QR code or using an USSD interface.
Many off-grid homes in Uganda are located in remote locations, where social and financial services are hard to reach. This partnership is aimed at helping these homes become healthier, wealthier and more connected. Across Africa 625 million people lack access to electricity, relying on kerosene, candles and batteries for power. These can be hazardous and bad for the environment. Solar has emerged as an important source of disbursed power generation but has traditionally required large, up-front investment.
“Access to basic necessities like electricity can unlock a better future for consumers on an individual basis and also help spur economic growth and empowerment for the country as a whole. The Mastercard QR technology helps provide new levels of payment flexibility and affordability and will have a real impact on the daily lives of thousands of consumers in Uganda. Digital technology is the ideal vehicle for promoting greater energy inclusion as it reduces the cost of delivery, increases efficiency and productivity thus opening up access to benefits and experiences that were previously unthinkable,” says Raghav Prasad, Division President of Sub Saharan Africa at Mastercard.
Nick Hughes, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, M-KOPA Solar says, “M-KOPA has proven that our flexible financing model, underpinned by IoT systems and telemetry, is a scalable and efficient way for millions of people to acquire life-changing services and products. For example, 94% of our customers report an improvement in their children’s ability to do homework after taking our basic lighting product. M-KOPA’s partnerships – including integration with the Mastercard QR payment platform – are opening up even more productive asset-financing services and infrastructure. “
Centenary Bank’s Managing Director, Mr. Fabian Kasi highlighted that, “This tripartite partnership shall go a long way in enhancing our bank’s efforts geared towards promoting the use of clean and safe energy by our customers in the various communities we serve”.
He added, “The mode of payment is an affordable solution for our customers, many of whom live in rural areas with little or no access to electricity and other necessities including structured financing which this campaign addresses.”