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Mastercard and Unilever Join Forces to Empower Small and Micro Businesses in Emerging Markets

At Mobile World CongressMastercard and Unilever today announced a strategic partnership to collaborate on a range of joint initiatives aimed at empowering small and micro businesses in emerging markets. By combining their expertise and reach, the companies intend to unlock economic growth and further advance specific Sustainable Development Goals such as poverty reduction and sustainable cities and communities.
According to the World Bank, there are somewhere between 365 and 445 million micro-, small and medium enterprises in the developing world, representing the economic backbone of many local communities. Yet, the true potential for these businesses remains untapped. Some of the biggest barriers for their further growth include limited market information, poor access to money, and a lack of financial management skills.
Matching Unilever distribution network with digital payments from Mastercard
By matching up Unilever’s network of distributors in developing countries with digital payment and acceptance solutions from Mastercard, technology resources will be activated to drive inclusive growth at greater scale.
As a first step, Mastercard and Unilever will explore ways to enable better access to formal financial tools for smaller retail outlets while also building entrepreneurship capacity, particularly for women and girls. Additional focus areas may include joint efforts to increase the usage of electronic payments across both wholesale and retail locations.
“Too many small merchants and micro entrepreneurs are stuck, like their customers, in a cash economy that doesn’t work for them,” said Ajay Banga, president and CEO, Mastercard. “With Unilever, we can bring a unique combination of technology and know-how to help these shop owners build a better future and serve their customers who are themselves on a path towards financial inclusion.”
Paul Polman, Chief Executive, Unilever added: “Strategic partnerships such as this are critical to helping us improve our business and positively impact the lives of 5.5 million people by 2020. By working together, we can have a much greater impact in emerging markets, empowering small scale enterprises and bringing about the transformative change necessary to meet the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals and our business.” 

During the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Her Majesty Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (center) witnessed Ajay Banga, president and CEO of Mastercard (left), and Paul Polman, Chief Executive of Unilever (right), signing a strategic partnership designed to advance financial inclusion efforts by empowering small and micro businesses in emerging markets.
First pilot project in Kenya
In Kenya, the companies are jointly designing a program to enable sustainable growth of small retail entrepreneurs. By digitizing the processes of buying supplies and selling goods small vendors will gain access to low-interest credit. This will empower them to better answer shopper demand and grow their business while upskilling themselves through basic insight tools.


Mastercard and MultiChoice Make It Simple for DStv Customers to Pay Using Their Smartphones

At Mobile World Congress, Mastercard announced a new solution for South African MultiChoice customers to quickly and conveniently pay their digital satellite television accounts using Masterpass, the global digital payment service from Mastercard, on their smartphones.

Customers can download Masterpass from the iOS or Android app store, register, and load their credit, debit or check cards from any bank into the digital wallet. Payment card information – including card details from Mastercard and other payment networks – is only captured once eliminating the hassle of repeatedly entering these details each time they want to pay their bill.
To settle their DStv accounts, customers simply click on the link they receive from DStv via SMS, and select Masterpass as the payment option. They authorize the payment by entering their ATM PIN or One Time PIN, and their account is updated within a few minutes.
“We’re pleased to work with MultiChoice South Africa to make bill payments simpler, faster and more convenient for DStv customers,” says Mark Elliott, Division President of Mastercard, South Africa. “With Masterpass, customers can simply use the app on their smartphones to manage their payments anytime and from anywhere – be it at home, at work or on-the-go.”
Another key benefit is that DStv customers who missed payments and had their DStv service disconnected, can settle their accounts using Masterpass and get reconnected quickly.
“With the new Masterpass payment option, our customers never need to miss out on their favorite shows or big sporting events. The collaboration with Mastercard helps us to give our customers simple, secure and pain-free payment options that make life easier for them,” says Mark Rayner, CEO for MultiChoice South Africa.
Customers can rest assured that their information is secured as the Masterpass digital wallet uses multiple layers of security, ensuring the user’s personal and payments details are protected.
Source: Mastercard 


The National Microfinance Bank PLC (NMB) has today launched the first ever money transfer service that will see customers registered with NMB mobile transfer money from their NMB account to other banks at the comfort of their finger prints.

To transfer up to TZS 3,000,000/- customers will need not walk into the banking halls any more; rather they can transfer through NMB mobile anywhere and provide the convenience that a customer needs.

Launching the money transfer service into the market, the NMB’s Value Added Service Manager, Stephen Adili, said the mobile Interbank Settlement System adds more options to NMB customers while maintaining the convenience and comfort of customers.

Previously, customers could transfer money from their NMB accounts to other banks by either physically visiting branches or through internet banking. In both cases the process took up to two hours for the transaction to mature.

 “The new mobile system of transaction is timely as recipient gets money instantly.” said Stephen Adili the NMB Acting Senior Manager Retail Liability, Insurance and Value Added Services.
Mr Adili added that “Being the first bank in the market, we expect a positive reaction from our customers who will no longer incur some transport and time expenses on transferring money from their NMB accounts to other banks accounts.”

Source: NMB

Mastercard Launches Mobile Marketplace to Digitize East Africa’s Agricultural Sector

2KUZE gives farmers access to more buyers, enables them to run a more profitable business and paves the way to a cashless agricultural sector

Mastercard today launched 2KUZE, a digital platform that connects smallholder farmers, agents, buyers and banks in East Africa. 2KUZE, which in Swahili means “Let’s grow together,” enables farmers to buy, sell and receive payments for agricultural goods via their feature phones. The platform brings the benefits and security of mobile commerce and payments to farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

2KUZE was developed at the Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion in Nairobi, which was set up in 2015 to develop practical and cost-effective financial tools that expand access and help build stable futures for more than 100 million people globally. Through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lab is working with East African entrepreneurs, governments and other stakeholders to develop local products rooted in the company’s global knowhow.

In the initial pilot, 2KUZE is being launched in partnership with Caf├ędirect Producers Foundation, a non-profit organization working with 300,000 smallholder farmers globally. Currently, 2,000 small-scale farmers in Nandi Hills, Kenya are using the solution to sell their produce and working with farmer-friendly agents to ensure they reach the right buyers for the best price.
“Eighty percent of farmers in Africa are classified as smallholder farmers having less than 1-2 acres of farming land, making it extremely difficult to drive growth and prosperity within this community, ” said Daniel Monehin, division president for Sub-Saharan Africa and head of financial inclusion for International Markets at Mastercard.
“We believe that by using mobile, a technology that is so ubiquitous among farmers in Africa, we can improve financial access, bring in operational efficiency and facilitate faster payments. The collaboration between the Lab team and farmers in the market helped to deliver a solution that can be implemented and make an impact without any major changes to the day-to-day.”
2KUZE makes transacting much safer and simpler for all stakeholders in the agricultural supply chain – the farmer, the buyer and the agent. Farmers using 2KUZE can conduct the entire transaction of selling produce and receiving payments via their feature phones, without having to walk for hours to the markets. The platform enables farmers to capture a greater percentage of the wholesale value of their goods by providing price transparency, more direct access to buyers and empowerment of farmer-friendly agents.
Source: Mastercard


Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: 09 March, 2017 – National Microfinance Bank Pic (NMB) has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Mastercard to ensure the digitization of the agricultural sector in Tanzania with the rollout of eKilimo, a mobile solution developed by the Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion.

eKilimo, which in Swahili means ‘eAgriculture’, is a digital platform that will help, introduce efficiency, security and transparency in the agriculture supply chain. The solution will make transacting faster, safer, and easier for all stakeholders including the farmer, the buyer and the agent.
Powered by the digital platform developed by the Mastercard Lab, farmers are now able to conduct the entire transaction process of receiving payments and selling produce via a feature or smartphone, without having to walk hours to markets. This helps to ensure farmers benefit from the ability to capture a higher percentage of the wholesale value of their goods by providing price transparency and more direct access to buyers.
“Contributing a significant USD 13.9bn to Tanzania’s GDP (nearly 30 percent), it is critical that solutions are found to support this vital sector, ensuring sustainability and growth. Technology is having a significant impact already, and the mobile device is giving small holder farmers the power and ability to move beyond cash,” said Raghu Malhotra, President, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard.
By providing digital payment to farmers, eKilimo will leverage the existing agency banking structure to facilitate account opening for farmers and joint ideation on new product features. This is in line with the Mastercard vision of a more digitally and financially included Africa.
“Using digital technology to provide access to farmers and introducing transparency to the buying and selling process will drive efficiencies into this supply chain, positively impacting the economy. In the long run this should help famers gain access to formal financial services and solutions, enabling them to manage their funds ensuring a better more secure future for them and their families.”
The solution which was developed at the Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion is part of a global commitment made by company to reach 500 million people currently excluded from the financial mainstream by 2020. The East African Lab, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is set to empower 100 million people through its focused approach of developing market and sector relevant solutions underpinned by meaningful insights and local collaboration.
The partnership between NMB and Mastercard will see the solution enter a pilot phase in select locations in Tanzania from March 2017. Following the introduction of the same solution in Kenya under the name of 2KUZE, key insights were gathered and will be used to ensure the Tanzanian pilot is a success. This cross pollination of knowledge driven by the Mastercard Lab ensures future rollouts are done so efficiently.
The pilot will begin with the onboarding of NMB customers that source directly from smallholders.  Field agents of the customers will use the eKilimo smartphone app to perform the purchase, including weighing the produce on a Bluetooth-enabled scale and paying the farmer digitally. The farmer will receive information and their payment from eKilimo, and will be able to leverage their transaction history to access credit from NMB. 
 “We are committed to growing Tanzania’s agriculture sector, and working with partners such as Mastercard to introduce technology that can change lives. Our experience in the sector gives us a unique point of view, combined with insights from Mastercard following the launch of the solution in Kenya under the name 2KUZE. It makes for a powerful collaboration, one that will benefit smallholder famers, buyers and agents – and the broader economy,” said the NMB Managing Director – Ineke Bussemaker. 

Vodacom Tanzania M-Pesa Innovation Forum

Vodacom Tanzania organized the M-Pesa Innovation Forum, the platform for Tanzania technology innovators and entrepreneurs to meet with the M-Pesa team to explore the opportunities that comes with the product and how the innovators can make the most it.

The forum was organized by the M-Pesa Tanzania technical and business team whereby they provided opportunities for technology innovators to ask random questions about the challenges they get when it comes to trying to innovate around the product. The biggest question was, when will the API be readily available for developers to integrate different payment systems with M-Pesa platforms ?
M-Pesa Tanzania is the second largest mobile payment system in the world after Safaricom which  has more than 7 million active subscribers and more than 30,000 merchants all over the country. It is the largest mobile payments service provider in the country. Currently they are connected to almost 500 businesses and have working partnerships with 30 commercial banks in Tanzania. The company has 85,000 M-Pesa agents networks nationwide. This is what the Tanzania innovators and technology entrepreneurs are looking to tap into. They are looking to get into the value chain of the business which contributes to 37.5 percent of Tanzania’s GDP.
As the forum went on, most of the developers in the room were waiting for one thing, the link for the API so as to access it. That, unfortunately was not the case, as the Vodacom team was keen to explain about the API not just in the technical perspective but in both business and regulators perspectives. From the team the issues was not just to be able to access the API and be able to configure it with your product or service but rather to understand the business viability of your product first and what does the regulators (Central Bank) say about it.
Mr. Tulisindo Rashid, M-Commerce Solutions Architect Manager explained their new updated Consumer to Business (C2B) platform which allows more flexibility. For example, in the new API, money is not deducted until the service has been delivered hence cutting down customer complaints to a large extent. He also explained that the API can be integrated with different platforms to allow users to do their payments directly using their M-Pesa accounts, for example the API can be integrated with School Management Systems and allow parents to pay directly into the collection account of the platform.
There were 90 minutes of a technical session where the head of technology of Vodacom Tanzania,  explained to the developers about the API and how they can integrate it with their platforms. The session was followed by a number of technical questions from the developers who attended the session. The head of technology of Vodacom insisted that, the priority for Vodacom is reliability and security when it comes to integrating with any external systems, hence developers should make sure they invest time to work on that before dropping by Vodacom’s office looking to get connected.
Finally the moment everyone was waiting for, Vodacom provided the procedure on how someone can access their API and start to do business with them. The business team provided a few simple steps on how someone can register and become their partner. These steps include:
  • Sending them emails to for enquiries
  • Providing your company registration documents
  • They will send you a Bank Indemnity form
  • You return the form with your company registration documents
  • If everything goes well you sign the contract with Vodacom Tanzania, and lastly;
  • The Service Level Agreement (SLA) and you are set to work with M-Pesa.
The M-Pesa Tanzania Product Manager, Mr. Polycarp Ndekana provided further explanations about having some challenges with regulation issues to some of the business models, which is outside Vodacom’s jurisdiction since it is being set by the Central Bank of Tanzania.
Vodacom also explained their new hosting solution – Vodacom cloud for companies that are looking to host through them. According to the service lead, the service is a new service and it is still at a preliminary stage. More information will be available in the near future.
Is this the new chapter we were looking  for? The answer is yes, the ecosystem needs this kind of collaboration between the corporate world and the innovators in the ecosystem, and Vodacom has just shown how it is done. We are expecting other MNOs to do the same. New innovations in the mobile industry will not come from their locked office doors but rather will come from young talented innovators available from the innovation spaces and tech startups companies where the urge to innovate is high compared to the big companies. They might not be able to replace the R&D departments but for sure they will bring the desired innovations.
Source: Knowcache

Mobile Number Portability (MNP)

Daily Energy Payments Powering Digital Finance in Ghana

Much has been written about the potential of pay-as-you-go solar to advance financial inclusion while expanding access to energy among the poor. One of the biggest challenges in promoting digital payments is that often there is not a strong value proposition for customers; people don’t want to switch from cash payments unless there is a good reason. The excitement around pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) solar is that by linking digital payments to useful everyday products or services, like reliable energy, customers have more attractive reasons to adopt and use digital payments. But does the data show this actually happening? New CGAP research in Ghana, carried out in partnership with PEG Africa and Tigo Cash, indicates yes.

To date, there has been isolated evidence that solar payments could drive mobile money use. Fenix International reported that at least 13 percent of their customers registered for mobile money in order to purchase a ReadyPay product, while in Rwanda, Mobisol estimated that 20 percent of their users were newly registered to mobile money services. But there has also been a long-held hypothesis in the industry that PAYGo customers are better active mobile money customers — that by making mobile bill payments on a regular basis, they become more comfortable and active users of additional mobile financial services. Increased usage means higher revenue per active user, making digital finance a more sustainable model for reaching the poor.

Testing this assumption required the right partners. Tigo Ghana is one of the leading DFS providers in Ghana. Its mobile wallet offering, Tigo Cash, has over 3.5 million registered subscribers. Converting them into active users remains an issue, as it does throughout the industry. PEG Africa is a financier of life-changing assets and a leading pay-as-you-go solar company in West Africa. PEG has installed over 20,000 solar home systems, bringing reliable lighting to over 100,000 people in a country where half the population lives off the grid and the other half suffers from unreliable electricity service. And as a business that relies on digital payments, PEG has been actively working with mobile money operators like Tigo Ghana to innovate in the mobile money arena.

CGAP worked with both organizations to compare active Tigo Cash users who are PEG customers with a sample of active Tigo Cash users who are not. The goal was to measure the average revenue per user (or ARPU) generated for Tigo within each sample, giving us a better idea of whether pay-as-you-go solar was really driving uptake of digital payments.

The difference in average revenue per customer was illuminating: PEG customers generated 122 percent more revenue per active user for Tigo Cash than did non-PEG customers in the sample. A significant piece of the added revenue comes from bill payments, which in Ghana are still relatively rare. The last Financial Inclusion Insights Survey, done in partnership with CGAP, revealed that only 5 percent of active mobile money users had made a bill payment, compared with 12 percent in Uganda and 20 percent in Kenya. But within the group of active mobile money PEG customers in Ghana, 34 percent had made a mobile bill payment: much higher than average.

In addition to bill payments, average PEG users had a more varied use history. They checked their balances more frequently, cashed in and out more frequently, and made over three times as many person-to-person transfers per user. All told, 54 percent of active PEG users had made a bill payment or P2P transfer within the study period, against only 18 percent of non-PEG customers.

There are important caveats to these statistics. Only 16 percent of PEG users in the sample were active, compared to 40 percent of Tigo Cash users. CGAP has worked with PEG to develop easier ways for customers to pay digitally, which will hopefully lead to increased active use. And it is certainly possible that outside factors, such as age and income, played a role in creating the ARPU difference, although controlling for those was not possible given the data available.
More research is needed, but it is clear that when PAYGo solar customers use mobile money, they use it a lot. According to Carl Pomeyie, the acting head of Mobile Financial Services at Tigo Cash: “The results reiterate the need to build an ecosystem that allows Tigo Cash customers to pay for services beyond just withdrawals from their wallets. As we [at Tigo Cash] look to build a digital ecosystem throughout Ghana, providers like PEG who provide essential services will be invaluable in stimulating demand and providing a value proposition to the rural customer.”
So what can other operators learn from this example? When building out mobile money infrastructure, it is essential to think about the value for the customer and to partner with someone who offers that “hook.” PEG has become one of the largest bill-pay recipients in Ghana, despite being a relatively new company. In Uganda, Fenix International and MTN are working together to distribute co-branded PAYGo solar units, offering ReadyPay as a dedicated USSD menu option for mobile payments. In Kenya, M-KOPA products are sold out of SafariCom shops, and both organizations recently signed an agreement to facilitate advanced knowledge exchange. Partnerships like these offer tangible value that can only be acquired digitally, giving customers users a reason to not only register for mobile money, but to actively use it.

On a broader level, partnerships between digital finance platforms and more traditional service providers could produce considerable synergies. In 2009, SafariCom and Kenya Power partnered to shift electricity bill payments to mobile channels. Kenya Power is now one of the largest bill-pay recipients on M-Pesa by value. In Cote d’Ivoire, shifting school registration payments to mobile channels helped to develop the digital finance infrastructure. These partnerships do not need to happen on a bilateral basis. Opening up payment and data APIs to external developers could produce a slew of new use cases, each of which may bring more active subscribers onto the payment rails. New and improved service models that leverage digital finance may not be beneficiaries of digital ecosystems, but the cornerstone on which they are built.

Source: Innovation in Africa

Impact of mobile money interoperability in Tanzania

Tanzania is one of the most developed mobile money markets in the world, representing almost a third of all of East Africa’s active mobile money accounts in 2015. [1] It is also one of the most progressive, with ambitious initiatives regularly leading to new product innovation. Today, we are releasing a publication looking at the impact of one form of innovation coming out of Tanzania: the impact of account-to-account mobile money interoperability.

With Tigo, Airtel and Zantel having connected their services in 2014 and Vodacom integrating in 2016, account-to-account interoperability is still in early days in Tanzania. As such, this publication focuses on preliminary quantitative metrics alongside perspectives and reflections written by the service providers. The basic quantitative data offers a glimpse of initial customer behaviours and allows us to benchmark growth against a comparative use case, the off-net voucher. The latter half of the publication focuses entirely on the perspectives of the providers. These perspectives are critical because the experience of these players will inform both how Tanzania develops and how other practitioners evaluate the opportunity of interoperability in their own markets.
Between the data and the providers, Tanzania has provided more evidence to help all industry stakeholders develop more realistic expectations of and a better understanding for account-to-account interoperability.  For example:
  • Basic market prerequisites in Tanzania provided the right dynamic for early growth. Growth in Tanzania is promising, particularly given providers have taken a “wait and see” approach in the early days. For Airtel and Tigo, cross-net transactions now exceed off-net vouchers, and both cite double-digit monthly percentage growth. To capture this early organic growth, providers benefitted from (1) an enabling regulatory environment that encourages innovation, (2) strong operational foundations across all providers and (3) a commitment to the user experience, including honouring a consistent price for all P2P transfers – whether on-net or cross-net. Markets lacking these basic prerequisites may risk a harder road before reaping the benefits that interoperability can enable.

  • Interoperability between providers can also be a catalyst for further investment in industry collaboration. There is a healthy diversity of perspectives and expectations from providers around the implementation and impact of domestic interoperability. However, what is clear is that the launch of this singular form of interoperability is part of, and in some cases reinforced by, an on-going strategy to capture the benefits of broader industry collaboration. Millicom, Vodacom and Airtel all explicitly expressed an interest to build on their experience and potentially extend interoperability to new use cases, such as merchant payments.

  • The impact of interoperability is best measured over the long-term. Mobile money interoperability has further to go in Tanzania before it is close to the transaction volume processed through bank integrations or on-net P2P transfers. To accelerate that growth, the industry continues to explore how improvements to the technological and financial infrastructure could make mobile money interoperability more efficient. New investment in customer campaigns are also underway, and these investments will help evaluate the long-term growth ceiling and the extent of mass-market need for the functionality.
  • Source: gsma

MTN Uganda, CBA to provide virtual loans on mobile phones

Telecoms company MTN Uganda and the Commercial Bank of Africa have launched a virtual banking platform designed as a credit facility for the unbanked population, and those lacking collateral and credit history, who are locked out of the loans market.

The service requires MTN Mobile Money users to open a mobile bank account on MoKash, into which they can deposit as little as Ush50 ($0.015) in savings, and borrow up to Ush1,000,000 ($293) repayable at a rate of 9 per cent.
In the absence of proof of creditworthiness of the virtual customers, MTN says it will rely on other factors like the consistency of a customer’s usage of services like data and utility payment services to decide the loan amount to give.
The micro loan offer is a result of advancements in technology that have seen mobile money revolutionise the movement of money and the payment systems in the region.    
MTN hopes to replicate the success Safaricom has had in Kenya, after it partnered with CBA to launch a similar service, M-Shwari, in November 2012. A rollout to Tanzania was made the same year, where some 5 million customers are currently subscribed to the service.
By March this year, CBA had disbursed Ksh10 billion ($100 million) in loans and collected Ksh8.1 billion ($81 million) in savings from 3.9 million customers.
In Uganda, MoKash is expected to increase financial inclusion for people in rural areas.
According to Prof Augustus Nuwagaba, an economist and lecturer at Makerere University, 68 per cent of Ugandans are not monetised, that is, they do not touch money. Only 8.3 per cent of the population interacts with commercial banks.
In Rwanda, 28.2 per cent of the population interacts with banks.
Movement of money
Uganda is considered to have the highest movement of money in the region, but much of this is in the rural areas through traditional and informal methods of saving like purchase of land and livestock.
“Ugandans have a lot of money that ought to be saved. However, they do not have the incentive to save, and so domestic absorption will be slow,” said Prof Nuwagaba.
There is a need for telecoms companies to expand their networks to distant customers for the delivery of their products. Handsets also need to be made available to potential customers in rural areas, together with financial literacy training in the benefits, security, accessibility and relevance of the services.
Erick Muriuki, the general manager for new business at CBA, said that for a successful cashless economy to be realised, there is a need to digitalise the money velocity in an economy.  
This has to start with the reduction of costs incurred when making payments for utilities using digital means.
Source: theeastafrican

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