Wari and Mastercard have signed a Strategic Alliance Agreement that aims to help strengthen the Wari offering for its users and the digital payment ecosystem in 35 African markets.
The two companies reinforced their focus on providing all citizens with access to secure and easy to use financial solutions, removing the need for cash and delivering more efficient ways for people to pay for goods and services. In support of this commitment, a suite of digital payment solutions will be introduced across the existing Wari network.
As part of the roll-out, the MyWari app will offer a wide range of Mastercard digital solutions that will benefit both consumers and merchants, including:
Secure remittance service by HomeSend, giving customers the ability to send and receive funds regardless of the payment method, cash, wallet, debit or credit card. Wari users will automatically have access to a number of diverse operators from banks, telcos and money transfer operators located across the world.
Ability to use a virtual card solution, via the app, that gives immediate access to funds, which is linked to the customers prepaid, debit or credit physical card.
Access to Masterpass QR, a mobile payment solution that gives Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) access to a low cost way to accept payments for their goods and services, helping them go beyond cash and traditional point-of-sale (POS) terminals.
The suite of digital payment solutions will also include prepaid, debit and credit Mastercard cards widely accepted at millions of locations worldwide. These payment cards offer EMV chip and pin technology, ensuring that all transactions are secure.
“Our partnership with Wari illustrates how much the payment industry has evolved, and how Africa is at the forefront of driving the shift towards digital payments,” explains Daniel Monehin, Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Mastercard.
He went on to add that for the inclusion of all Africans into the formal financial sector to be truly realized, partnerships with stakeholders across the spectrum would be required. Monehin reinforced that both Mastercard and Wari shared a vision of a world beyond cash, where the true potential of economies will be realized through the efficiencies introduced by innovative digital payment solutions.
Sub-Saharan Africa requires innovative solutions and strong collaborations across sectors to help drive economic growth. According to recent research, mobile subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa is currently at over 71 percent and steadily increasing, making mobile driven solutions even more important. With an unemployment rate of 8 percent and only 28 percent of adults in the region having a formal bank account, Sub-Saharan Africa needs innovative solutions, such strong remittance and other mobile solutions, and strong collaborations to achieve this growth.
He highlighted that Africa’s remittance market, for example, has opened up a number of opportunities for driving financial inclusion due to the lack of legacy issues. According to research by the World Bank, the Sub-Saharan Africa region had an inward remittance flow of over US$34 billion, with outward remittance flows of approximately US$4 billion.
“The partnership with Mastercard will provide us with the ability to boost digital payment acceptance in the markets that we operate. With the Mastercard experience in securing payments across the world, customers can rest assured that their payment, whether done by card or mobile, will be secure. This alliance reinforces our commitment to provide to our partners and users, access to easy to use digital solutions. The alliance between Wari and Mastercard is an important milestone in making financial inclusion a reality for all Africans,” says Kabirou Mbodje, Wari’s CEO.
Digital payments to Ebola response workers saved lives
Mobile phones serving as digital “wallets” for payments to response workers proved an invaluable tool in Sierra Leone’s response to the Ebola crisis, according to a new study from the United Nations-based Better Than Cash Alliance.
With economic instability, natural disasters and political conflict now taking place at unprecedented rates, the new research offers valuable lessons on how to harness the power of technology to help emergency workers reach more people by paying them digitally during crises. The country has been Ebola free since January.
The report comes just ahead of the first ever United Nations World Humanitarian summit set to begin next week.
Crucially, Sierra Leone’s experience shows the critical importance of governments, companies, and international organizations working together to develop policy frameworks, infrastructure and operating guidelines for digital payments before crises strike.
“Sierra Leone’s firsthand experience with digital payments and its impact on Ebola response and control taught us that, Governments like ours must take this growing payment system seriously as it can significantly contribute to inclusive growth and transparency,” said H.E. Momodu L. Kargbo, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development. “In developing the partnership with private sector, development organizations, the Central Bank, financial institutions, network providers; and building the foundation for an inclusive digital payment system, Government must take the lead.”
Sierra Leone was one of the hardest-hit countries during the Ebola outbreak, with more than 14,000 reported cases of the 28,000 total cases in West Africa. Ebola response workers were spread across Sierra Leone’s 14 districts, including many health units in rural areas. The speed with which Ebola spread meant the government needed a more efficient, reliable and secure tool than cash to manage payments to response workers in a country where there were fewer than 50 ATMs when the outbreak struck.
Digital/mobile payments offered a powerful solution, particularly given Sierra Leone already had mobile network coverage across nearly 95 percent of the country, and more than 90 percent of response workers with access to a mobile phone.
One of the major challenges of cash is that it is expensive, slow, difficult to transport and vulnerable to theft, graft and payment errors. Late or incorrect payments to response workers often led to strikes during past emergencies and at the start of the Ebola crisis before digital payments were implemented.
In Sierra Leone, digital payments reduced these strikes from an average of eight per month – causing the loss of about 800 working days per month – to virtually zero.
“Ebola response workers put their lives at risk every day. It was vitally important they received all the money they earned, with no skimming or theft. They got it immediately, as their families had no other income; and only legitimate workers got paid – no one else. Paying Ebola response workers directly into a digital wallet instead of cash met these goals, saved lives and over $10 million,” said Dr. Ruth Goodwin-Groen, Managing Director of The Better Than Cash Alliance. “Sierra Leone’s experience shows the critical importance of developing and implementing national policy frameworks and supporting infrastructure to drive effective and flexible digital payments ecosystems in advance of humanitarian crises.”
The vast majority of the cost savings were due to eliminating payments to people who were not legitimate Ebola response workers, known as “ghost workers”. The money saved was given to those who really needed it.
SimbaPay to allow money transfers of up to $45000 USD to Africa
“Revolutionised the remittance space” by allowing its customers to transfer up to $45,000 USD to countries in Africa. This is substantially higher than the previous transaction limit of $3,000. According to Victor Karanja, Head of Operations at SimbaPay: “Sending money home and buying property across Africa has just become a whole lot easier.” Karanja continued by saying that: “A pain point for customers in the past has been having to undertake multiple transfers to complete a single purchase.”
“A key risk with multiple transfers was exchange rate fluctuation. Sending up to $45,000 with just our mobile app will protect senders from the fluctuation that arises when one splits up the transfer,” added Karanja.
According to Karanja, African immigrants in European countries can now complete larger purchases in Africa such as that of property, vehicles and paying large hospital bills or university fees via the SimbaPay app.
He further revealed that as an incentive to users, SimbaPay money transfers of more than $3,000 will also automatically qualify for the daily SimbaPay Discounted Exchange Rates. With the Discounted Exchange Rate, a user gets to transfer money at a more favourable exchange rate than the standard SimbaPay exchange rate.
Karanja added that EU based Africans will now be able to send large amounts of money back home instantly and free of charge. Money transferred via the service to Africa is credited instantly at the destination mobile money wallet, merchant or bank account.
“What further sets SimbaPay apart from other money transfer services is that the App can do more than just send money directly to mobile money services such as M-Pesa. SimbaPay can also send money to bank accounts in Africa and to Pay Bill merchants such as schools and utility companies,” concluded Karanja.
The app’s higher transaction limit is immediately available on all SimbaPay platforms including iPhone, iPad, Android and Web.
Xoom, a digital money transfer provider, has revealed that it will be expanding its services in Africa. The company revealed that the move will essentially allow individuals in the United States to send money to Nigeria via a mobile phone, tablet or computer.
According to the company, this expansion includes an instant bank deposit service to any Nigerian Naira account, which includes First Bank Nigeria, Guaranty Trust Bank, Zenith Bank and more. Xoom’s service will allow Nigerian immigrants in the U.S. to send money to bank accounts in Nigeria with their U.S. bank accounts, credit cards, or debit cards.
“At Xoom, our goal is to make sending money around the world easier, more convenient and faster. That’s why we’re excited to extend Xoom’s services into Nigeria,” said Julian King, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Development, Xoom. “According to the World Bank, $5.7 billion is being sent to Nigeria annually from the U.S. With Xoom, users can now send money from their mobile phones in a few clicks and instantly deposit money into their loved ones’ bank accounts in Nigeria. No more waiting in lines at the bank to wire money or at a cash pick-up center.”
The company further revealed that all customers require is their recipient’s bank account number, and Xoom will transfer funds to banks in Nigeria. Individuals can send up to $2,999 for just $4.99 when paying with their bank account.
Xoom provides locked-in exchange rates on Naira (NGN) deposits to Nigeria and a secure and convenient way for immigrants to send money from their computer, tablet, or mobile phone. Customers can download Xoom’s app for Android and iOS mobile devices for free.