Mastercard has signed partnership agreements with both the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) and Zemen Bank in Ethiopia to accelerate the advancement toward a cashless society.
Mastercard’s collaboration with CBI will also digitise Iraq’s payment ecosystem in a bid to boost financial inclusion, encourage socio-economic development and mitigate the risks of a shadow economy.
Although Iraq’s population of 40 million people is largely cash-driven – 99.8 per cent of its $122billion personal consumption expenditure was made in cash in 2019 – the country has a 70 per cent smartphone penetration rate. In addition, 222 per cent of the population fall within the young and tech savvy 15-24 years old age bracket.
Khalid Elgibali, division president MENA at Mastercard, said: “Creating a digital payment ecosystem is critical, not only because it encourages economic development, but because there is also a demonstrable, negative relationship between cash use and the shadow economy.
“Our work with the Central Bank of Iraq will focus on improving overall efficiencies the economy, starting with the educational institutions by giving parents, students, and merchants a much safer, simpler, and more convenient way to pay. This is only the start however, and we look forward to expanding into other sectors at a later stage, as we work to advance the full payment ecosystem and achieve financial inclusion in Iraq.”
Turning to Ethiopia
Meanwhile, Zemen Bank’s partnership with Mastercard will see the arrival of the first ever Mastercard branded prepaid contactless travel card in Ethiopia (and the first contactless card issued in the country).
Zemen Mastercard prepaid travel cards are available in Dollars and Euros with additional currencies in the pipeline.
Zemen Bank is also rolling out Mastercard’s contactless tap to pay service, the first of its kind in Ethiopia. Through Z-Tap, all Zemen POS machines and most ATMs accept contactless Mastercard cards.
Raghav Prasad, Mastercard’s division president for Sub-Saharan Africa said: “Mastercard has been spearheading the transition to contactless for many years, championing tap-and-go as the most simple, safe and fast way to pay. Innovation is central to achieving a cashless society in Ethiopia where everyone can thrive.
“We remain committed to developing market-relevant digital payment solutions that offer value to consumers and the wider ecosystem, and our partnership with Zemen Bank is the latest example of how we continue to collaborate on this journey.”