Mastercard will officially open an office in Harare, Zimbabwe having identified a clear opportunity to tap into the Southern African country’s continued digital finance drive.
The majority of monetary transactions in Zimbabwe are conducted via electronic payment systems, with over 96% concluded via plastic, internet and mobile money. However, there is widespread speculation over the impact of the 2% per dollar tax on mobile money and electronic transactions enforced by government in October 2018.
Zimbabwe’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy, introduced in 2016, aims to increase access to formal financial services from 69% in 2014 to at least 90% by 2020.
Ajay Banga, Mastercard President and CEO said the new office would facilitate the company’s efforts to address financial inclusion – a pressing challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa where only 42.6% of the adult population has access to an account.
“Too many people and businesses are still excluded from the financial mainstream. This leaves them without the things we take for granted – a way to save money for a rainy day, get loans, or insure themselves or their crops,” he said. “The new office will allow Mastercard to provide more effective support to its customers in neighbouring Southern African countries.”
The use of electronic payment systems will also result in foreign currency savings, according to the company.
“Mastercard will collaborate with local private and public-sector partners to drive greater financial inclusion through the implementation of innovative payment technologies,” Banga added.
To date Mastercard has partnered with Steward Bank, FBC Bank and Econet’s Ecocash to start Ecocash Scan & Pay, a QR code-based mobile payments solution targeted at merchants and consumers.
The company would not disclose how much it will cost to establish the new office and said only that it will mirror other countries.