Examples of the two largest credit card networks forming stronger partnerships in the Middle East & Africa
Fintech Middle East & Africa

How Credit Card Networks Visa and Mastercard are Developing in the Middle East and Africa

It is no secret that the two largest credit card networks are Visa and Mastercard. Based on US purchase volume from last year, Visa was the largest at over $2trillion followed by Mastercard at just shy of $1 trillion.

For instance, Visa’s Covid-19 Impact Tracker, an ongoing survey of merchants and consumers across the Central Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) region, found over 80 per cent of small businesses in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 93 per cent in Saudi Arabia have seen their revenues negatively impacted following Co-VID 19. In addition to their own livelihoods, these small sellers play an essential role in the lives of their customers, employees and vendors.

Examples of the two largest credit card networks forming stronger partnerships in the Middle East & Africa
It is no secret that the two largest credit card networks are the following – Visa and Mastercard. Both are, based on credit card networks are by far the largest IMAGE SOURCE GETTY

Digitalisation and wider digital transformation has been a priority in recent memory, but, it is without a doubt that Co-VID 19 has accelerated that. For instance, Mastercard announced commitments to increase contactless payment limits in more than 50 countries worldwide, including in the UAE, where the limit was raised to AED 500 ($136 USD). Limit increases were part of the company’s global effort to make sure consumers, merchants and small businesses have the resources to safely pay, receive payment, and maintain operations during the World Health Organization’s (WHO) defined “pandemic.”

Here are some examples from this year that, not only due to the current environment but with the global trend prior to the pandemic, have boosted efforts by the two largest credit card networks.

Oman – Bank Nizwa and Mastercard

Located in the Middle East and part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Sultinate of Oman has one of its banks partnering with Mastercard. From Trade Arabia, under the extended collaboration, Bank Nizwa plans to rollout new payment solutions and improve payment experience for customers. Bank Nizwa Retail Banking AGM Arif Al Zaabi was quoted by the publication, “Mastercard is a well-established name in the field of cards and payment solutions, and we are indeed delighted to extend our partnership. While we continue to operate under Shariah-compliant norms, we are also coming up with innovative solutions to serve our customers better. We are confident that this extension of partnership with Mastercard will give us a good impetus to help drive a steady growth of our cards in the market.”

Bahrain – Fintech Bay and Visa

Last year, Visa announced a partnership with Bahrain FinTech Bay to further support the development of the FinTech ecosystem in the Kingdom. The aim of the partnership focuses on the development of joint innovation and educational initiatives alongside a payments focused event to discuss the latest trends in payments, e-commerce, security, and risk. In addition, it wants to contribute to both the regional and global initiatives in which Bahrain Fintech Bay is an active participant across Fintech Consortium’s platform including Silicon Valley and Singapore.

South Africa – Fasta and Mastercard

Fasta, a digital lending fintech company, has partnered with Mastercard to launch ‘FASTACard.’ This would be South Africa’s first virtual Mastercard credit card. The new feature will give South Africans access to instant credit that would be loaded onto a secure digital card which could be used online and in-store, according to Mastercard. This virtual card replaces a physical plastic credit or debit card and can be used for eCommerce purchases anywhere that Mastercard is accepted. Fasta is an authorised and registered credit provider, offering a low-cost financing facility; they use an ‘advanced risk-based decisioning tool’ by granting credit instantly while ensuring value for money.

Zambia – Tutuka and Mastercard

Zambia’s Zazu has announced a partnership with global payments enabler, Tutuka, to launch its first Mastercard virtual card. The virtual Mastercard is linked to the Zazu mobile wallet, allowing cardholders to seamlessly access funds and connect to the global marketplace. The virtual card expects to provide contactless digital payment solutions to adapt to the growth of ‘contactless’ solutions in Africa, with the added benefit that it helps control COVID-19. Creating a virtual card envisions even greater digital financial inclusion.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) – Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Startupbootcamp and Visa

Startupbootcamp, which is one of the world’s most active global industry-focused startup accelerators and investors, has established its regional headquarters at DIFC.  Startupbootcamp FinTech Dubai was launched in 2018 in partnership with DIFC, VISA, Mashreq and HSBC and to date has successfully graduated 20 FinTech start-ups in the fields of payments, lending and Islamic digital banking.


  • Executive Economic Development Advisor (Emerging Markets) | Contributor

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