How Technology is Bridging the Divide in Africa’s Emerging Markets

Mark Elliott, division president for Mastercard, Southern Africa talks to Africa.com about Mastercard’s recent acquisition of South African fintech Oltio, and how they will use the technology to bridge the divide in emerging markets.

The credit-card provider said its acquisition of Oltio – whose technology is used to authenticate Mastercard’s Masterpass digital wallet transactions in Southern Africa – will help it scale up its digital solutions offerings in cash-dominated emerging markets across the wider region.

“Too many consumers and merchants in the MEA region are stuck in a cash economy that doesn’t work for them, 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.”

In Africa, 85% of the retail transactions are still done in cash, which is costing governments anywhere between 0.5% to 1.5% of GDP depending on the country. There is also security spend, theft and loss of lives related to cash. Cash is the friend of corruption. Cash is not the friend of the person who’s trying to be straight with what they’re trying to do. And cash certainly isn’t the friend of the millions of Africans who are financially excluded and are kept out of the financial mainstream. Think about having to pay a bill in cash and standing in line for hours – when you get paid by the hour and you can’t pay that bill over the phone or online.

There’s never been a greater opportunity for business to be a force for good in the world.