Airtel Africa signed a strategic partnership with Mastercard to launch a service that will allow Airtel’s mobile phone customers across 14 African countries to transfer and receive funds internationally. The new service is designed for over 100 million mobile phone users of Airtel in Africa in order to bolster stronger cooperation between Airtel Africa and Mastercard in boosting the digital economy on the continent.
The new service will present an easier means for Airtel’s mobile users to initiate digital transactions across different countries abroad. Airtel users who will be the beneficiaries of this service will be able to access and connect to wallets in over 145 markets around the world. enabling them to send and receive money from varieties of countries.
The 14 African countries where Airtel’s network is live and the service will be introduced include Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
The regional director of Airtel in East Africa, Ian Ferraro, said that the partnership with Mastercard will allow the mobile network company to provide satisfaction in international money transfer services. He said it will also improve customers’ lives with digital financial solutions because the purpose of the new service is to help its customers across the African countries it operates to achieve a more effective international money transfer service.
Additionally, the senior Vice-President of MasterCard, Ngozi Megwa, assured that the service will be smooth and safe and that Mastercard has always been committed to Africa’s growth in the digital economy sector.
Importance of digital payments in Africa
As seen in a report, a high percentage of MasterCard’s customers initiate international payments through mobile apps. The number of people who send and receive payments on international mobile apps explains the high rate of digital methods for fund transactions in Africa.
The partnership reveals Airtel and Mastercard’s contributions to making digital change and mobile financial services available for Africans. Accepting digital payments improves not only financial inclusion but also economic growth, efficiency, and transparency. Africa can accelerate its digital payment journey and become a worldwide leader in digital financial services if players from all sectors work together
Consequently, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa, for example, have put in place the necessary infrastructure and legal frameworks to support a sophisticated electronic payment system. Approximately half of the money from electronic payments will likely come from these five nations in the future, with Nigeria having the greatest increase at 35% per year. Other countries that will increase by more than 20% per year include Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Senegal, and Uganda.
In retrospect, the value of mobile money transactions processed by African banks grew from $5 billion in 2012 to more than $60 billion in 2020. By 2023, the number is expected to have skyrocketed. Across the continent, there are already over 330 million active mobile money users. These figures demonstrate the enormous potential for growth in the African digital payments market.
Airtel Africa’s role in Africa’s digital economy
In 2021, African telecoms operator, Airtel Africa secured an investment for its mobile money arm — Airtel Mobile Commerce BV (AMC BV). The company revealed that it was set to receive $200 million into AMC BV through a secondary purchase of shares from Airtel Africa. The deal closed in two tranches, $150 million invested late that year, subject to customary closing conditions including necessary regulatory filing.
The remaining $50 million was invested in the second tranche once further transfers of certain mobile money operations and contracts into the AMC BV perimeter have been completed.
Months ago, Airtel Africa Plc announced that it acquired an additional spectrum in Tanzania. The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) sold the 140 megahertz spectrum split between 2600 and 3500 MHz bands to Airtel for $60.1 million. This is to support network development for mobile data as well as fixed wireless home broadband capability, including 5G rollout, and to provide significant capacity to match the country’s sustained robust data growth.