Mastercard in partnership with M-KOPA Solar and Centenary Bank celebrated the first ‘pay-as-you-go’ QR transaction this week, officially launching the initiative.

The service provides a simple and inexpensive way to power homes and businesses in Uganda. M-KOPA, which offers affordable, safe and clean energy to three million people in East Africa has launched Mastercard’s Quick Response (QR) payment technology in Uganda to facilitate and extend the reach of its groundbreaking pay-as-you-go solar program.

The partnership will provide Ugandan homes and businesses with clean and reliable solar energy as United States Agency for International Development revealed Uganda has one of the lowest electrification rates in Africa, at 22 per cent for 2017.

The partnership will also provide Ugandans with easy access to information and finance for a range of productive assets.

M-KOPA’s products are lights, mobile phone charging, radios, smartphones, TVs and fridges. To connect to M-KOPA, customers would pay a deposit and then small daily payments towards electricity that are lesser than what would be spent on kerosene, candles and batteries over the same period of time.

Mastercard Lab, however, developed a new master card pay as you go API solution. The card will enable M-KOPA and Centenary Bank to bring new payment innovation to the market. It would combine low-cost QR technology with the Internet of Things (“IoT”) to lead more secure and efficient payments in the market.

With this new development, customers are enabled to make payments from their mobile phones by scanning a QR code or using a USSD interface.

Ajay Banga visiting a small shop to witness pay-as-you-go QR transaction

Many off-grid homes in Uganda are located in remote locations, and this partnership aims to help these homes become healthier, wealthier and more connected.

 “Access to basic necessities like electricity can unlock a better future for consumers on an individual basis and also help spur economic growth and empowerment for the country as a whole,” said Raghav Prasad, Division President of Sub Saharan Africa at Mastercard, while speaking at the launch.

Nick Hughes, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, M-KOPA Solar also expressed his firm belief in the success of the initiative. “M-KOPA has proven that our flexible financing model, underpinned by IoT systems and telemetry, is a scalable and efficient way for millions of people to acquire life-changing services and products,” said Hughes.

Centenary Bank’s Managing Director, Mr Fabian Kasi added: “This tripartite partnership shall go a long way in enhancing our bank’s efforts geared towards promoting the use of clean and safe energy by our customers in the various communities we serve.”

Earlier this week, Mastercard reaffirmed its support for Zimbabwe’s digital transformation by creating a new wave of digital payment and inclusive growth in the country. MasterCard will be partnering with the local, private and public sector to drive greater financial inclusion through the implementation of innovative payment technologies in the country.

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