October 22, 2020

Mastercard gives regional fintech firms market entry, expansion boost

Global payments technology company Mastercard has unveiled a programme designed to facilitate the launch and expansion of fintech firms in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region.

Mastercard says the Fintech Express initiative will support digital payment innovators by making it simple to collaborate with the company and its partner network to launch new fintech products.

It adds that it is designed for all types of fintechs, including established fintech companies wanting a direct licence from Mastercard, as well as those with the ambition to innovate through collaborating with ready-to-go Mastercard Engage partners.

“It is designed for fintechs looking to add payment solutions to their suite of products, tech-savvy start-ups looking at serving a new segment, as well as established players with ambitions to innovate through partnerships.

“Becoming an Express Partner helps brands simplify the launch of payment solutions, shortening the process from a few months to a matter of days. Express Partners will also enjoy all the benefits of becoming a qualified Engage Partner.”

Gaurang Shah, senior VP for digital payments and labs in Mastercard MEA, adds: “Start-ups are forming exciting and diverse new collaborations with traditional financial institutions, thereby enhancing competitiveness while also bringing a host of new services and products to market. Mastercard is playing a central role in making these fintech partnerships a reality as their technology provider of choice.

“Technological advancement and innovation are steering the digital financial services industry as fintech players are becoming globally mainstream and an increasing influx of these players are competing with large traditional players. With today’s announcement, we are taking the next step in further empowering them to fulfil their ambitions of scale and speed.”

In Africa, says Mastercard, fintech start-up funding is one of the most active business investments, with Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya representing the lion’s share.

The South African Reserve Bank, for example, has established a fintech unit to monitor the impact of new technology developments on the traditional banking sector, it states.

According to the company, some of the early players to have joined forces and created alliances under the new Express Partner programme in South Africa include Ukheshe and Nedbank.

“Partnering with Mastercard on the Fintech Express programme has enabled us to rapidly access and integrate Mastercard’s digital product offerings into our end-customer solutions. This, coupled with Mastercard’s reach, has seen our business increase on a global scale,” notes Clayton Hayward, CEO of Ukheshe.

Chipo Mushwana, executive of emerging payments at Nedbank, states: “Payments are a critical part of everybody’s life and enabling customers to perform any transaction seamlessly across multiple channels is a winning formula. Partnerships between banks and fintech firms are critical to delivering this, and at Nedbank, we not only believe in these partnerships but in the very essence of shared business models to extend our delivery capability.”

Mushwana continues: “Our partnership with Ukheshe has enabled us to respond to a specific set of customer needs, driving cost synergy to fast-track competitiveness, and advancing revenue synergy to accelerate new opportunities. The Mastercard Accelerate platform further provides an access point for us to engage with start-ups that are competent and meet the compliance requirements to work with financial institutions.”

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