MTN teams up with Mastercard on mobile wallets

Industry News

Africa’s leading mobile operator MTN has partnered with payment platform Mastercard to add online payment functions to its mobile wallet for user across its fintech footprint.

South Africa-based MTN announced that it has enter a partnership with Mastercard to enable users of MTN MoMo (mobile money) service in all the 16 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa where MTN Money operates to make online payment. Users of MoMo will be able to use a Mastercard virtual payment solution linked to their MoMo wallets, to “shop at well-known global e-commerce brands and pay quickly and securely for leisure shopping, travel, accommodation, entertainment, streaming services and more.” For owners of small businesses, the payment solution will enable them “to purchase from suppliers abroad”, the companies said in a press release.

This should be welcome news to Amazon and Alibaba in particular.

“We are very excited about this partnership with Mastercard, which is another step in realizing our ambition to build Africa’s largest fintech platform, accelerating economic and social development through digital innovation to the benefit of citizens across the continent and beyond,” said MTN Group Chief Digital and Fintech Officer Serigne Dioum. “This noteworthy partnership is another step to enable our customers to participate in the global economy. We are resolute that accelerated financial inclusion is a potent enabler of socio-economic development that empowers the most vulnerable in society,” he added.

“This significant milestone will enable millions of MTN customers to benefit from global digital commerce and drive digital and financial inclusion across Africa through easy and secure access to financial services,” said Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President for Market Development, Mastercard Middle East and Africa. “At Mastercard, our innovation strategy is based on partnerships and collaboration. This agreement with MTN shows that we can deliver innovative digital solutions that have a far-reaching impact and realize the true potential of inclusive growth across the continent. Partnering with MTN allows us to accelerate our global pledge to connect 1 billion people to the digital economy by 2025, bringing us closer to a world beyond cash.”

Mobile wallet and mobile payment are particularly important services for the African consumers, not only because there is a large unbanked population that is not able to do online transactions, but also, thanks to the lack of fixed internet infrastructure, mobile devices are the primary, often only, internet access points.

All the four so-called Pan-African operators, MTN, Orange, Vodacom/Safaricom, and Airtel, have offered their money mobile solutions. MTN and Vodacom’s mobile money solutions include loans, insurance, money transfer and payment. Orange has gone one step further with the launch of its digital bank, Orange Bank Africa, in Côte d’Ivoire in July 2020.

The new partnership announced today between MTN and Mastercard is both an upgrade and an expansion of an earlier offering the two companies jointly delivered in Uganda in 2018, called MoMocard. The difference from the earlier iteration of the solution is not only in its territorial expansion, but also the need for users to have a bank account to use the new service. Back in 2018 when the first Mastercard partnership was launched it also involved United Bank for Africa. It is not clear how much opening a virtual card would cost the user, or anything at all. When it was first launched in Uganda two years ago, opening a card would cost UGX 1,000 ($0.27).

MTN says its Mobile Money service has 22.2 million users.

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