Mastercard has announced that, care of Facebook Messenger, it will be able to provide small businesses in Africa and Asia with an affordable and easy on-ramp for accepting mobile payments.
Announced at Mobile World Congress, the new experience will get its first road test in Nigeria, where Mastercard will pilot a new Masterpass QR bot to help business owners move beyond cash transactions to accepting QR payments.
Mastercard’s official financial services partners in the launch will be Ecobank and Zenith Bank.
“In line with our goal to serve 100 million Africans by the end of 2020, Ecobank is delighted to collaborate with Facebook and Mastercard to enable underserved and unbanked micro-merchants with the opportunity to open an Ecobank account almost immediately and begin to receive instant payments using Ecobank Masterpass QR on the Facebook Messenger platform. Micro-merchants in Nigeria are already benefiting from Masterpass QR and will soon be in 32 markets across Africa, enabling them to move away from cash. That is true economic empowerment,” said Patrick Akinwuntan, Group Executive, Consumer Bank, Ecobank Group.
The pilot in Nigeria is the beginning of a larger plan by the two companies to include more businesses into the digital economy.
“Our bank is partnering with Facebook and Mastercard to introduce Masterpass QR as a means of driving financial inclusion and creating a new payment ecosystem for MSMEs and consumers,” said Mr. Peter Amangbo, MD/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc. “This initiative will help us encourage financial inclusion within the country, in line with the strategic thrust of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Buyers and sellers now meet and conclude transactions in-store, online and on social media, so we are ensuring payments can also be made on these platforms via QR codes, without having to log onto other solutions or even take a break from what you are doing on Facebook.”
Each year, $301 billion in funds flow from Nigerian consumers to businesses — and 98 percent of those payments are done in cash, according to data from the Fletcher School and Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.
“Every business owner is looking for ways to increase sales and draw new customers into their stores. By offering QR-based digital payments, smaller retailers can achieve these goals and create greater customer stickiness with little to no investment beyond the phone they already have,” said Jorn Lambert, executive vice president, Digital Channels and Regions, Mastercard. “Masterpass QR opens up new commerce channels for these merchants and enables them to create auditable transaction records. These advances open doors to other financial tools and products such as loans to drive added business growth.”
The program will work by allowing business to request to enable QR payments. Once approved by the banks, the business can begin digital payments in a fast, simple and secure manner. Those QR codes can be printed and displayed in their store window, in their stores or even on their own phones. Customers can pay by either scanning the code from their smartphone or by entering the merchant ID associated with the QR code into their feature phone.
“Brands and developers around the world are turning to messaging to connect with the 1.3 billion people who use Messenger each month,” said Kahina Van Dyke, director of Payments and Financial Services Partnerships at Facebook. “We are pleased that Mastercard is developing a service on the Messenger Platform to help small merchants use messaging to manage their business and connect with their customers.”