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Digitisation is changing the fortunes for Kenyans whom employment has become dodgy. The digital economy carries the promise of unlimited opportunities. [Photo/CNBC]

Airtel Africa has announced a partnership with Mastercard, giving over 100 million Airtel Africa mobile phone users across 14 African countries access to Mastercard’s global network.

The Mastercard virtual (non-plastic) card allows Airtel Money customers, even those without a bank account, to make payments to local and global online merchants that accept Mastercard cards, while ensuring that the customer’s financial data is always secure and private.

In addition, Airtel Money customers will also be able to make in-person payments at outlets via Quick Response (QR) codes. To date, there are over one million merchant locations across Africa that accept Mastercard QR payments.

Airtel Money customers will also benefit from competitive pricing and preferential exchange rates for international payments, and gain access to other domestically relevant use cases including bill payments, merchants payments and value-added services such as cash management solutions.

“Airtel and Mastercard have a shared passion for digital transformation and making mobile financial services accessible to everyone across the continent,” said Raghunath Mandava, the CEO of Airtel Africa. “Through our partnership, we will enable over 100 million Airtel Africa customers to make safe mobile money purchases online and in person.”

The partnership will also significantly bolster Airtel’s position as one of the largest offline-to-online digital payment networks in Africa.

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Growth in internet use

Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President for Market Development, Mastercard Middle East and Africa, said, “Across the MEA region our digital partnerships strategy remains focused on enabling digital transformation for our partners so that their consumers can enjoy seamless access to payments and a superior experience.

Mobile internet connections are expected to grow rapidly in Africa due to low-cost smartphones and high-speed GSM networks being rolled out by Mobile Network Operators like Airtel.  This growth in internet connections is creating increased demand for digital content, social media, m-commerce even online education and a need to make online payments easily and securely by both banked and unbanked consumers.

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