15 January 2013

Kenya: Equity, Mastercard in Joint Venture

Nairobi — Global payments and technology company MasterCard and Equity Bank have signed a partnership that will see the bank's customers in the region issued with new debit and prepaid cards that will be accepted at any MasterCard point of sale globally.

The collaboration will see five million 'Equity Bank MasterCard' debit cards introduced in the Kenyan market in the next one year before extending to the other four East African countries including Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Sudan where the bank has its footprint.

However the cards will only be issued to new customers and those renewing their current cards.

"Through this partnership the unbanked and under-banked will be introduced to the benefits of electronic payments, enabling them to become part of a more secure, convenient cashless economy," Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi said during the signing of the agreement in Nairobi.

The cards will also introduce the MasterCard Pay Pass feature, which is a contactless payment attribute that provides cardholders with a simpler way to make payments without swiping or giving the cards to cashiers.

Master card president and CEO Ajay Banga said the new cards will enable the customers to have access to one million ATMs and 34.7 million locations worldwide.

"Unlike the current debit cards, which are only acceptable at Equity Bank ATMs and merchants, the new cards will be accepted globally. They will also have the EMV (Europay-MasterCard-VISA) technology, for high security, unlike the current magnetic stripe card, which is prone to fraud," Banga said.

The bank is currently working with the company to also obtain access and license to operate in five other countries within the central African region.

In the recent past, the bank has added its efforts in coming up with products that will keep its customers who are gradually growing from the lower end of the market, who is the core target, to the middle income segment.

It is expected that the partnership will increase the uptake of debit and prepaid cards from the current 9.9 million in the country according to Central Bank to 13.9 million.

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