Partnerships / Acquisitions

Mastercard Buys Oltio To Bolster Digital Payments

Mastercard announced news on Tuesday (March 6) that it has completed its purchase of Oltio, the mobile payments technology company from Standard Bank Group.

In a press release, Mastercard said it has had a longstanding relationship with Oltio; the purchase of the startup will build upon that relationship. Oltio has patents for several mobile payments and banking solutions, including an authentication technology that lets consumers authenticate Masterpass digital wallet purchases in South Africa with a bank PIN and mobile phone.

Mastercard said over the next few months it will tap into Oltio’s technology, the skills of its employees and the startup’s infrastructure to enhance and scale its own digital payment services for merchants and issuers in emerging markets, which have long been based on cash — which has created problems and shutout the unbanked from many markets.

“Too many consumers and merchants in the MEA [Middle East and Africa] region are stuck in a cash economy that doesn’t work for them,” said Mark Elliott, division president for Mastercard, Southern Africa, in the press release. “By combining our joint expertise, technologies and reach, we can bridge the divide between the region’s cash economies and the digital future, bringing the benefits of digital payments to more people and businesses.”

According to Mastercard, following the closing of the deal, issuers will be able to add new functionalities, including person-to-person payments, bill payments and airtime top-ups, which can be integrated into existing mobile banking applications. For merchants, Mastercard said it will enable even the smallest businesses to accept digital payments.

“We have had a great relationship with Mastercard over the years and believe that Oltio will thrive as part of an issuer-independent payments company with Mastercard’s vast global resources and innovative technology,” said Andrew Wilmot, executive, Group Card and Emerging Payments for Standard Bank, in the same press release.

Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.

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