Airtel Africa and Mastercard have announced a partnership that will see them serve a substantial customer base of more than 100 million in the continent. Airtel Africa, which is Africa’s second-largest operator that operates in 14 states will see its users benefit from the collaboration that will allow Airtel Money users, including those without an official bank account, access Mastercard’s network.
Airtel Money, which, locally, is not performing very well due to M-PESA’s upper hand in terms of customer base, features, and agency coverage, hopes to leverage this development to allow customers to make local and global payments for merchants that accept Mastercard cards.
The most exciting aspect of the partnership is in-person payments, which Airtel says will leverage QR codes. In this case, payments will be made from an Airtel mobile phone by scanning a quick response code displayed at a checkout or merchant identifier.
It is worth noting, however, that these developments are nothing out of the ordinary. Both organizations have their core systems, and they make a good case to lobby for their services to select customers who can appreciate the offerings of such payments systems. In a bid to increase financial inclusion, such collaborations help in making more people access a variety of payment channels. However, carrier-based solutions, such as the aforementioned Airtel Money, are still vital considering access actually goes to the grassroots.
Digital payments, as well as the need to easily pay for products and services purchased from e-commerce sites, has driven the adoption of online payments, which, for the most part, are not unique (most companies do the same thing). Novel approaches such as this collaboration are things we are looking for in the coming days as payment systems and apps become more popular.