To aid the use of electronic payments which provide a safe and secure way to pay versus cash and other forms of payment, Kenya’s Equity Bank has partnered with MasterCard, a global payments and technology company, to issue five-million MasterCard-branded debit and prepaid cards over the next 18 months.

The Debit and Credit cards will feature MasterCard’s PayPass technology, making Equity Bank and Kenya the first in Africa to feature MasterCard’s PayPass which uses Near Field Technology (NFC).  PayPass’ implementation of Near Field Technology (NFC) in payment cards enables easier check out at tills and retailers by tapping the cards to process payments.

The process is 25 percent faster than swiping cards, Ajay Banga, MasterCard president and CEO said.

For safety purposes, the cards will also feature EMV chip technology rather than the traditional magnetic stripe.

The chip-enabled technology will first be issued into the Kenyan market and then extended into Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Sudan; signaling the largest rollout of EMV payment cards in Sub-Saharan Africa to date.

Commenting on the new partnership, Dr. James Mwangi, CEO and Managing Director of Equity Bank said, “We aim to support East African governments in achieving their goals for greater financial inclusion. The partnership with MasterCard will help to solidify our position as one of the leading banks in East Africa.”

He explained that working with various Central Banks across the region is essential to understanding these goals and designing tailor made solutions for each market.

Mwangi added that Equity Bank has chosen MasterCard as its partner “due to the fact that we have a shared vision of an East Africa that is more financially inclusive for all its citizens and less dependent on cash.”

“Cardholders will be able to use their MasterCard PayPass debit or prepaid cards at any location that accepts MasterCard worldwide. Special promotional offers will be announced during the rollout of the campaign,” he said.

Mwangi said the bank will overhaul all Point of Sale (PoS) terminals it has issued to support PayPass.

MasterCard also announced that they would be launching a training centre in the country to educate both its staff and members of the country in usage of the card.

Meanwhile, kiosks and other small retailers who are not in a position to afford traditional PoS points will be issued with PayPass enabled mobile phones. With the mobile phones, the kiosks and small retailers will be in a position to accept and process payments from cards issued by Equity Bank.

Mwangi said that payments made at kiosks will attract no transaction fee.

According to the Finscope Rwanda 2012 survey, financial inclusion in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda stands at 33, 30, 56 and 28.1 percent  respectively; indicating the opportunity for both Equity Bank and MasterCard to extend financial inclusion to those previously not exposed to the benefits of electronic payment solutions.


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