Ecobank Transnational Inc. and MasterCard, have announced a multi-country licensing agreement which will provide access to MasterCard’s electronic payments solutions for Ecobank’s customers in a further 23 African countries. The agreement is the culmination of a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) originally signed in November 2011, and importantly, enables electronic payments access to more than 60% of Africa’s population.
Ecobank subsidiaries in 28 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa are now licensed to issue and accept electronic payments through MasterCard prepaid, debit and credit cards. With this partnership, Ecobank’s customers in this fast-growing region will have access to MasterCard’s credit, debit and prepaid card products, whilst MasterCard will leverage Ecobank’s unrivalled pan-African footprint to provide its electronic payments solutions to a wider customer base.
“The provision of convenient, reliable and accessible financial products and services forms the bedrock of Ecobank’s Pan African strategy,” said Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s Group Executive Director responsible for Domestic Banking. “We also recognize that partnerships with leading global players such as MasterCard are key to accelerating the migration of our customers to a ‘cashless society’ throughout Africa.”
Commenting on this partnership, Ecobank’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Thierry Tanoh said: “This agreement demonstrates Ecobank’s vision which is to provide our customers with convenient, accessible and reliable financial products and services as part of our commitment to build a world class pan-African bank and contribute to the economic development and financial integration of Africa.”
Ecobank is now licensed by MasterCard in the following 28 countries: Burkina Faso, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea (Conakry), Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“We are proud to partner with Ecobank, which is quickly growing its presence in Africa. This is the largest multi-country licensing project completed by MasterCard in Africa and as such is a great milestone for us, as we aim to achieve our vision of a world beyond cash by bringing the benefits of electronic payments to an increased customer base in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Daniel Monehin, Division President, Sub-Saharan Africa, MasterCard. “We expect that the 28 newly licensed Ecobank subsidiaries will begin to accept MasterCard credit, debit and prepaid cards at their ATMs and Points of Sale from early 2014, as we work with the Ecobank Group to complete licensing of the remaining Ecobank subsidiaries.”
Under the terms of the 2011 MOU, MasterCard will partner with Ecobank to explore joint business development opportunities across Central, East, West and Southern Africa where Ecobank has a presence. In addition, the banking group will become an issuer and acquirer of MasterCard products in more than 1,200 branches across Africa, giving Ecobank’s customers access to over 35.9 million acceptance points – including 2.1 million ATMs – in over 210 countries and territories worldwide where MasterCard cards are accepted.
The collaboration comes at a time when MasterCard is working in partnership with governments and financial institutions around the world to broaden usage and acceptance of electronic payments, thus promoting their benefits relative to cash transactions of convenience, security and reliability. Today, over 85% of retail payments globally are still carried out using cash or check, with the percentage being much higher in Africa. However, the combination of a rapidly expanding middle class and steadily improving financial literacy, supported by robust technology, is increasing the appetite for card usage in Africa, providing opportunities for the advancement of a cashless society across the continent.