MasterCard Pushes Mobile Payments, eCommerce, EMV In South Africa

South Africa has a population of around 50 million people, and over a quarter of them are underbanked. spoke with Phillip Panaino, MasterCard’s newly appointed division president, South Africa, to discuss how his company plans on revolutionizing the way millions of South Africans bank.

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MasterCard Pushes Mobile Payments, eCommerce, EMV In South Africa

With a population of around 50 million, South Africa is the 24th largest country in the world. Yet according to Phillip Panaino, Division President of MasterCard, South Africa, around 27 percent of adults classify as underbanked.

That’s a statistic Panaino and his team is determined to change, and spoke with Panaino to find out how.

“I think the challenge for us as a payments company is to bring technologies and solutions to the market,” said Panaino, who assumed his role as division president in early August.

According to Panaino, about 90 percent of all transactions in South Africa are still made with cash, and a big reason why is because of a lack of awareness of alternatives.

“There’s a huge opportunity to add more value to the market and to raise awareness, and to educate people that there are better ways to make payments more efficient, safe and secure,” he said.

So what sorts of payments technology is MasterCard focusing on bringing to South Africa? Panaino cited eCommerce as an exciting area of growth, and also highlighted mobile payments as a vehicle through to which improve the banking situation in South Africa quickly.

“Mobile is going to be a key driver, and has been a key driver, of the market,” Panaino emphasized. “To put it into perspective, roughly 92 percent of consumers in South Africa own a mobile phone. Of the 92 percent, roughly 12-22 percent have a smartphone, so there’s a great adaption in the market.”

“There’s a huge willingness from the consumers … to use mobile phones in terms of facilitating payments.”

In addition to a move away from cash and towards mobile payments, Panaino states MasterCard is focused on several other South African initiatives as well. He says MasterCard’s goal is to enable a full 20 percent of the population with EMV cards by the end of the year, and will also expand its PayPass technology to facilitate retail and mobile payments as well.

To hear more from Panaino on MasterCard’s South African activity, listen to the full podcast below.


Phillip Panaino
Division President, South Africa, MasterCard Worldwide

Philip Panaino is division president, South Africa, MasterCard Worldwide

Panaino is responsible for the overall performance of MasterCard in South Africa. He will provide strategic direction for the overall business ensuring that MasterCard continues to provide simple and secure electronic payment solutions to customers and consumers across South Africa.

Panaino joins MasterCard from Smartec Technologies, a payments service and technology organisation where he was chief operating officer. In this role, he led the development of acquisitions in new transaction flows and consumer payment capabilities including enhanced self-service, mobile payments and contactless payment solutions.

He spent the first 11 years of his career with Citi, where his last assignment was director and head of global transactions services for South Africa. Prior to this position, he was vice president for the Sub-Saharan Africa business, fulfilling the role of business manager of global transaction services across 11 African countries.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in commerce, banking and financial management from Milpark Business School.

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