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  January 30th, 2015 | Written by

MasterCard Partners to Expand Access to Digital Financial Services in Africa

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MasterCard and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have said they will collaborate in an effort to expand economic development across the African continent “by developing solutions that drive growth in Africa by broadening access and usage of digital financial services.”

The deal “will bring MasterCard’s proven expertise to the design and scale of new financial services solutions and infrastructure,” says Ajay Banga, president and CEO of New York-headquartered MasterCard. “We’ll work with African governments and local private-sector companies to develop and deliver affordable services that meet the needs of a wide consumer base, especially the traditionally unbanked.” Specifically, he says, the collaboration “will seek to build cohesive African financial systems that drive inclusion at a country level and enable service delivery to traditionally excluded populations—an area in which Africa has been lagging behind other continents.”

Broadening access to financial services, says Banga, “will mobilize greater household savings, marshal capital for investment, expand the class of entrepreneurs, and enable more people to invest in themselves and their families.” In addition, he says the collaboration will “invest in developing innovative financial services companies and solutions targeted at addressing barriers that hinder growth, and share knowledge across academic, policy and commercial sectors to create economic development.”

“Despite the phenomenal economic growth in Africa, this has not translated into shared prosperity and better livelihoods for the majority,” says AfDB president Donald Kaberuka. Growth, he continues, “has to be inclusive to be socially and politically sustainable” as “less than one adult out of four in Africa has access to an account at a formal financial institution”—a situation that can only be rectified “when the public and private sectors combine resources and act together.”

MasterCard’s payments processing network currently connects consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries; the AfDB is the largest development bank on the African continent with economic development operations in 34 countries.