Partnership to increase financial inclusion and boost EMV migration efforts in the region


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Nairobi, Kenya, 15 January 2013 – MasterCard and Equity Bank of Kenya today announced an agreement at a signing ceremony in Nairobi to issue five-million MasterCard-branded debit and prepaid cards.  This program empowers African consumers to use electronic payments which provide a safe and secure way to pay versus cash and other forms of payment.


As a result of the partnership, MasterCard debit and prepaid cards with chip-enabled technology will be issued, first into the Kenyan market and then extended into Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Sudan, signaling the largest rollout of EMV payment cards in sub-Saharan Africa to date. The cards will also introduce MasterCard PayPass™ with the first ever installation of PayPass enabled point of sale terminals across the region. 


The suite of products that will be made available in the East African region will include Mobile Point of Sale (MPOS) technology which allows merchants to receive payments via low cost add-ons linked to secure applications on their mobile devices (such as a smart phone or tablet). This technology will extend the security and convenience of electronic payments to merchants and their customers who previously depended on cash to transact.


“MasterCard is committed to extending financial inclusion across East Africa and the rest of the continent, introducing the unbanked and under-banked to the benefits of electronic payments”, said Ajay Banga, MasterCard President and CEO. “Our vision of a world beyond cash is only achievable through collaborations with industry stakeholders, such as the Equity Bank partnership.


“Working together with governments, financial institutions, merchants and businesses, together we will be able to help modernize the payment industry and assist East Africa reach its full potential as a financial power-house competing on a global platform,” Banga concluded.


According to the Finscope Rwanda 2012 survey, financial exclusion in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda stands at 33%, 30%, 56% and 28.1% respectively, indicating the opportunity for both Equity Bank and MasterCard to extend financial inclusion to those previously not exposed to the benefits of electronic payment solutions.


Dr. James Mwangi, Group CEO, Equity Bank commented, “In line with our vision of championing the social economic prosperity of our people, we will continue to execute strategic partnerships that will broaden financial access and deepen inclusion in the region. Our commitment is to continue innovating financial products and services that give our customers the freedom of modern banking while supporting their social economic dreams. We will continue to align our financial intermediation with national strategies in every market we operate. The partnership with MasterCard will help to solidify our position as one of the leading banks in East Africa.” He added, “We have chosen MasterCard as our partner due to the fact that we have a shared vision of an East Africa that is more financially inclusive for all its citizens and less dependent on cash.  Cardholders will be able to use their MasterCard PayPass debit or prepaid cards at any location that accepts MasterCard worldwide,” Dr. Mwangi concluded.  Globally, PayPass is present in 48 countries and accepted at nearly 550,000 merchant locations.Equity Bank’s investment in a robust IT platform continues to pay dividends as the Bank ventures into strategic partnerships such as this with a view to becoming a one stop shop for financial services in the region.  The Bank runs on a Global Robust State of the Art Information Technology Computer System supported by


Infosys, HP, Oracle and Microsoft.  The multi-currency, multi-company, multi- country system has a capacity of 35 million accounts and a processing speed of 300,000 transactions per minute.  This system is supported by Way4, an online Card Management System which has multi-institution and multi-currency transaction processing capability and has the ability to handle over 60 million cards with speed performance of 180,000 transactions per minute.


The Bank operates on the EMV (Europay-MasterCard-VISA) technology in its Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) outlets and point of sales (POS) as well as at Equity agency locations. The Robust System is backed by a comprehensive Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery System.


 “We shall continue to strengthen our business model through innovation, enhanced use of technology and automation for a better customer experience,” said Dr. Mwangi.


The partnership between MasterCard and Equity Bank is part of the payments solutions provider’s goal of  increasing its business in the region by providing added value to more customers, while at the same time encouraging the uptake of cashless transactions in the region as envisioned in its pursuit of a cashless global economy.

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