MasterCard Worldwide, a global payments and technology company opened its offices in Nairobi, Kenya to serve East African market in a move expected to boost financial inclusion.
MasterCard said in a press statement last week that its products will see the benefits of inclusion into the financial system extend to many more East Africans, giving them the opportunity to transact electronically with people and companies.
“We are establishing the new Nairobi office as a gateway through which MasterCard will liaise with its existing customers across the East African region,” said Daniel Monehin, Area Head, East & West Africa and Indian Ocean Islands, MasterCard Worldwide.
Monehin added that it will also be a launch pad for further expansion across the region, by providing advice to support MasterCard’s ongoing quest to shift consumers from traditional cash payments to non-cash payment systems, so that they can avoid the costs, risks and inefficiencies associated with cash.
The Nairobi office brings the number of MasterCard offices across the African continent to five, with other offices operational in Cairo, Casablanca, Lagos, Johannesburg and now Nairobi.
The office will act as MasterCard’s liaison office for customer banks, business associates and consumers in its main markets of Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, Ethiopia and Uganda, as well as across the rest of the East African region, bringing the organisation’s knowledge of electronic payments best practice to these markets.
This will include a significant emphasis in the areas of card knowledge and skills development, advising on development of card acceptance infrastructure, new products, and developing partnerships with ‘technology enablers,’ as well as retailer education and best acceptance practice.
MasterCard’s products include debit, prepaid, mobile and credit card payment solutions, which can be used to avoid the pitfalls of cash.
East Africa is heavily reliant on cash based payments, which restricts an individual or company’s economic activity to their immediate geographic area.
“We have invested significant resources into understanding East Africa, its business dynamics, how its consumers operate and the unique conditions that make this region one of the most exciting places to do business,” said Charlton Goredema, Vice President and Market Manager for East Africa and Indian Ocean Islands for MasterCard Worldwide.
He added that MasterCard products make it simple and safe to process electronic payments anywhere in the world, and that Consumers using electronic payment systems don’t have to worry whether the cash they are carrying is sufficient for their intended purchase, or fear for their security, as is common when carrying a large amount of cash
MasterCard will also be offering the services of MasterCard Advisors into the East African region, helping to ensure that best-practice principles are implemented across the payments network.
The Governor of National Bank of Rwanda, Amb Claver Gatete, said having such international payment companies would encourage tourism because visitors worry about carrying big amounts of cash, which in turn, limits their stay in a particular country.
“Carrying cash is risky but with a MasterCard (tourists) they need not to arrange for a particular budget to stay in a country or to spend on certain things,” Amb Gatete said.
He noted some banks are undergoing testing with MasterCard and government is encouraging all banks to register with international payment companies.
“We hope at the end of this year we will have a perfect electronic payment, Fina bank is almost completing its testing with Visa and we want these international cards not only on POS (Point Of Sale) but in all ATMs,” Gatete emphasised.