At the U.S.-Africa Business Forum held in New York last week, U.S. President Barack Obama referenced the latest example of Mastercard helping improve the remittance corridor in Africa with the expansion of HomeSend into Ethiopia [WATCH VIDEO ON RIGHT]. Working with the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, this partnership brings remittance services to more than 100 million people in the East African country and allows people to easily send funds directly to any mobile number in Ethiopia. More importantly, it provides access to a safe and convenient financial solution, bridging the gap for the 78 percent of adults in Ethiopia still excluded from the formal financial sector.
The partnership in Ethiopia joins an effort already underway to transform remittances across the continent including in countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
In our meeting earlier this year with the president of the African Development Bank, the number one topic on his agenda was remittances. The impact of remittances on the economies of Africa is large. 20 – 30 million African immigrants send approximately $40 Billion USD back to their families and communities every year. Digital payments can help, and in fact are helping, make that process simpler, safer, smarter, and more cost effective. This means more money reaching families back home in Africa who need it most.
But our effort extends well beyond remittances. We know how becoming financially included can transform economies and lives. Families now receive government social payments on a Mastercard prepaid card in South Africa. Women are enrolling and receiving their first form of government issued identification in Nigeria that also includes payment functionality. These programs have the potential to empower people and bring greater security and dignity. In fact, McKinsey recently released a new report that cites the potential to provide access to financial services for 1.6 billion people in emerging economies, more than half of them women.
Much of this will be highlighted at the Mastercard Innovation Forum which is being held in Budapest from the 27th to the 28th of September. The forum is an industry defining-event which will hold numerous panel discussions for industry leaders to share new thinking and groundbreaking ideas. A core focus of the Forum will be how innovation is driving financial inclusion, and creating the future of commerce. For Mastercard, financial inclusion is at the heart of its business strategy and not a goodwill initiative. The global leading payments company is committed to increasing the number of people who are part of the formal economy and they have recognised that in order to achieve this, payment innovation and simplification is key. It is for this reason that Mastercard is thinking differently, designing products differently and innovating faster than ever before.