Mastercard has launched Fintech Express in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), a program designed to facilitate emerging fintechs’ launch and expansion. Leveraging the power of partnerships and Mastercard’s expertise, technology, and global network, startups will now be able to focus on innovation that drives the digital economy.

The project is designed for all types of fintechs: established fintechs wanting a direct license from Mastercard; as well as fintechs with the ambition to innovate through collaborating with ready-to-go Mastercard Engage partners. As such, the program is split into three core modules: Access, Build, Connect.

  • Access: Enabling regulated entities to obtain a Mastercard License and access Mastercard’s network through a streamlined onboarding process
  • Build: Fintechs as Processors/Enablers can become an Express Partner by building unique tech alliances and benefitting from all the advantages that Mastercard provides
  • Connect: Fintechs/Start-ups, looking to add payment solutions to their suite of products, can easily connect with qualified Express Partners available on the Mastercard Engage web portal, and go live with Mastercard in a matter of days

The program supports digital payment innovators by making it simple to collaborate with Mastercard and its partners to launch new fintech products.

It is designed for fintechs looking to add payment solutions to their suite of products, tech-savvy startups looking at serving a new segment as well as established players with ambitions to innovate through partnerships.

Becoming an Express Partner helps brands simplify the launch of payment solutions, shortening the process from a few months to a matter of days. Express Partners will also enjoy all the benefits of becoming a Qualified Mastercard Engage Partner.

“Startups are forming diverse collaborations with traditional financial institutions, and in the process manage to enhance competitiveness, while also bringing services and products to market that can have a real impact on consumers. Mastercard is playing a central role in making fintech partnerships a reality as a single technology provider,” said Gaurang Shah, Senior Vice President, Digital Payments & Labs, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard.

He added that technological advancement and innovation are steering the digital financial services industry, where fintech players are becoming globally mainstream and an increasing influx of fintech players are competing with large traditional players.

“With today’s announcement we are taking the next step in further empowering them to fulfil their ambitions of scale and speed,” he said.

In Africa, fintech startup funding is one of the most active business investments and Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya represent the lion’s share of investment.

The MEA region also currently has over 1,200 fintech players, covering everything from credit to insurance to wealth management offered through a centralized cloud-based platform.

Some of the early players to have joined forces and created alliances under the new Express Partner program across Sub-Saharan Africa are Diamond Trust Bank, DPO Group, Selcom and Tutuka.

“We are excited to partner with Mastercard under the Fintech Express program. The world has changed dramatically over the last few months and we are fast embracing a fully digital economy. As a bank driven by innovation, DTB is looking forward to collaborating with emerging fintechs in the region and providing them with the necessary support on their payment solutions,” said Farouk Khimji, Head of Products & Innovation at Diamond Trust Bank Kenya.

Eran Feinstein, CEO and co-founder of DPO Group, a leading African payment service provider operating in 19 African countries said he was delighted to be Mastercard’s preferred payments partner of choice on this exciting new initiative.

“Fintech Express will accelerate the ability of fintech firms to commercialize their operations and payments processes, driving financial inclusion and boosting business growth in Africa. We work with more merchants across more markets than any other payment service provider on the continent,” he said.

The DPO Store, an e-commerce solution which is powered by Mastercard, enables merchants to set up integrated payments and a free e-commerce business website within 72 hours.

“The demand we have seen for the DPO Store demonstrates the appetite from business owners for effective, fast technological solutions,” he commented.

Sameer Hirji, Executive Director, Selcom, the largest payment service provider in East Africa said the company’s seven-year partnership with Mastercard had enabled it to go the extra mile and achieve unmatched scale in key African markets, while focusing on product-market fit for our innovative payment offerings.

“The strategic partnership has helped us to not only share our learnings with other Mastercard partners, but also to enable Mastercard to attain local expectations and needs with our brand association and presence. During our three-year run in this programme, we’ve discovered that such partnerships are critical in order to deliver products that enhance customers’ lives,” he stated.

Rowan Brewer, CEO, Tutuka, a global payments enabler that powers millions of transactions every day said the partnership will allow fintechs to easily issue Mastercard payment tools whether virtual, physical or mobile.

“Through those fintechs, customers across Africa and the Middle East will have a simple route to use Mastercard, often for the very first time. This is true financial inclusion,” he said

Mastercard Fintech Express falls under the umbrella of Mastercard Accelerate – Mastercard’s overarching fintech platform that gives start-ups and emerging brands support and assistance for every stage of their growth and transformation, from market entry to global expansion. Mastercard Accelerate is comprised of four main programs: Fintech Express, Start Path, Engage and Developers.


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