Digital payments rush sees Visa, MasterCard clamour for Africa


By 2025, two-thirds of all Africans will have a smartphone and with this lies a great opportunity in mobile money and digital payments.

Many companies are thus rushing to claim a share of this market as the global banking industry shrinks.

Mobile money has been a resounding success in Kenya where it was founded almost 13 years ago.

As the company seeks to expand its offerings, Safaricom has partnered with and Visa for a partnership that will enable the development of products to support digital payments for M-Pesa customers.

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The partnership will cover over 24 million M-Pesa customers, more than 173,000 Lipa Na M-Pesa merchants from Safaricom and more than 61 million merchant locations throughout Visa’s global network, and over 3.4 billion Visa cards in more than 200 countries and territories. This is subject to regulatory approval.

With this joint effort, Visa and Safaricom seek to eliminate barriers to global commerce and offer an expanded set of mobile e-commerce capabilities to merchants and consumers by enabling secure and convenient cashless payment solutions.

As cashless payments continue growing in popularity driven by increased globalization and digitization, there is increased demand for more innovative services. With this, another set of solutions has been created by African digital payments company, DPO Group which has launched an e-commerce store.

The store is powered by Mastercard’s payments gateway technology which will enable merchants across Africa to swiftly move their businesses online and continue to trade with their customers.

Available in the 19 countries in which DPO operates, the end to end e-commerce solution called the DPO Store initially targeted essential services such as supermarkets, food stores, pharmacies and chemists, merchants. These are provided with a website and an integrated digital payments function which is fully connected to the DPO and Mastercard payments gateway platform.

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This makes it possible for all forms of payment including cards and mobile money to be accepted.

The website is customised for each merchant to reflect their brand and it includes stock management capability, a stock-alert system when product inventory runs low and real-time order management.

Thousands of transactions have taken place since the DPO Store was soft-launched in Kenya on April 1, 2020.

In 2018, DPO Group and Mastercard entered into a partnership whereby DPO is authorised to act as a Pan-African payments switch via Mastercard Payments Gateway Services, meaning it can independently authorise transactions with no need for bank integration.

In the same year that DPO partnered with Mastercard, OPay launched its mobile payment service creating an agent-centric mobile payment operation infrastructure focused on reaching the massive unbanked population of Nigeria.

The company incubated by Norwegian based, global consumer Internet Company Opera, is already Nigeria’s leading mobile wallet and motorbike ridesharing provider.

OPay is one of the fastest-growing companies in Nigeria, providing consumers with a wide range of services including mobile payments and transfers, ridesharing and food delivery and it is planning expansion across into new African markets.

As payments shift online, Diamond Trust Bank (DTB), the East African banking group, joined African payment services provider DPO Group and Mastercard last year to rollout a business to business (B2B) virtual payment card in Kenya and Tanzania.

The DPO Virtual Card improves the reach and ability of businesses to make instant digital payments to other businesses in Africa and across the world without the need for a physical credit card, debit card or bank account, improving cash flow for firms and opening up African businesses to other markets.

Merchants of the DPO Virtual Card receive a 16-digit card number, security code and expiry date and this acts like a digital account which can be used worldwide much like a physical card.

The virtual card will enable secure, swift online payments to be made to any vendor both within and outside the DPO network, decreasing the risk of fraud and loss.

Read: Mobile money to keep Africa’s banking afloat

I have 10 years of experience in multimedia journalism and I use the skills I have gained over this time to meet and ensure goal-surpassing editorial performance. Africa is my business and development on the continent is my heartbeat. Do you have a development story that has to be told? Reach me at and we can showcase Africa together.

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