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Friday 5th March, 2021

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Fintech

MasterCard, Network Int’l Partner To Accelerate Digital Payment Adoption Across MEA

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Photo credit: MasterCard

MasterCard and its strategic partner, Network International, have collaborated to launch a new digital platform which will accelerate the adoption of digital payments across the Middle East and Africa.

MasterCard is a technology leader in the global payments industry, while Network International is the leading enabler of digital commerce in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region.

With this new digital platform launching in January, Network International will help its clients to enable mobile-based payments for their consumers and merchants across various channels.

Merchants will now have one simple-to-use technology interface through which they will be able to accept multiple payment types, ranging from USSD, Quick Response (QR) to Standard POS and eCommerce, with mobile money and Tap on Phone (technology which allows merchants to accept contactless card payments directly on their smartphone or tablet) coming online later in 2021.

The solution will initially be launched across 40 African countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa and extended across the rest of the Middle East and Africa in the coming months.

Payment issuers and banks will be able to offer their consumers state-of-the-art and easy-to-use payment solutions including Digital Wallets, Person-to-Person (P2P) Payments and Virtual cards.

Additionally, the platform lays the foundation for financial institutions to simplify access to a growing range of best-in-class MasterCard products.

Across the Middle East and Africa, governments and NGOs are publicly supporting a move to digital payments and less reliance on cash to secure the financial inclusion of more people.

With limited card payment infrastructure in some markets, mobile payment solutions are ideal to help offer electronic transactions to more communities – both in-store and online.

“Accelerated adoption of digital payments means more consumers and businesses are enabled to benefit from a growing digital economy and a world beyond cash.

“MasterCard’s trusted, secure technology will be available to more people through this digital platform and we are very proud to activate this important initiative with Network International as our long-term strategic partner,” said Gaurang Shah, Senior Vice President, Product Management, Digital Payments & Labs, Middle East and Africa, MasterCard.

“Our partnership with MasterCard is focused on rapidly growing electronic payment usage across our region and this initiative is a major foundational step in meeting that goal,” added Paul Clarke, Group Head of Product & Innovation at Network International.

“We believe the launch of this platform is the first in a series of steps towards delivering simplified, collaborative payment solutions across the payments value chain in the Middle East and Africa. We have plans to grow the platforms’ capabilities so that we can help our joint customers, large and small, accelerate the move from cash to digital solutions.”

The companies have a long-standing partnership, including MasterCard’s strategic investment in Network International and a shared commitment to developing innovative payment solutions that will grow electronic transactions across the MEA region.

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Fintech

Facebook And Google Eye Indian Digital Payment Network

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Facebook and Google are teaming up with Indian firms, Infibeam and Reliance Industries on an application to set up a national digital payment network in the South Asian country, according to the Economic Times.

The Reserve Bank of India has invited companies to create new umbrella entities (NUEs) that build payments networks that offer an alternative to the bank-owned not-for-profit National Payments Council of India.

Citing sources, the Economic Times says that Google, Facebook, conglomerate Reliance and fintech firm Infibeam are at an advanced stage in submitting their plan to the central bank.

Google and Facebook (through WhatsApp) are already significant players in the fast-growing Indian digital payments market.

Another American giant, Amazon, is rumoured to have teamed up with ICICI Bank to explore its own NUE play. The Reserve Bank is expected to award two licences.

 

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MoneyGram Suspends Ripple Pact Over SEC Suit

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MoneyGram has suspended trading on Ripple’s platform over concerns about the latter’s litigation with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a Finextra report.

In 2019, Ripple agreed to invest up to $50 million in MoneyGram as part of a two-year partnership that has seen the old-school money transfer player tap the blockchain startup’s XRP digital currency for cross-border payment and foreign exchange settlement.

Ripple has effectively been paying MoneyGram to use its on-demand liquidity service, with the money transfer outfit seeing a “net expense benefit” of $12.1 million from Ripple market development fees in the first quarter of 2020.

However, late last year the SEC filed a regulatory lawsuit against Ripple Labs Inc. and two of its executives, alleging that they “raised over $1.3 billion through an unregistered, ongoing digital asset securities offering.”

The complaint mentions the MoneyGram arrangement, although not the company by name, saying: “The Money Transmitter became yet another conduit for Ripple’s unregistered XRP sales into the market, with Ripple receiving the added benefit that it could tout its inorganic XRP ‘use’ and trading volume for XRP.”

Reporting its fourth-quarter results, MoneyGram now says: “The Company is not planning for any benefit from Ripple market development fees in the first quarter. Due to the uncertainty concerning their ongoing litigation with the SEC, the Company has suspended trading on Ripple’s platform.”

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Opera Prepares For Roll Out Of Fintech Banking Service

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Opera, an Internet company is moving into financial services with the launch of Dify, an in-browser cashback service and digital wallet for online shopping.

Launching first in Spain, the initial version of the Dify app ships with a current account, a free virtual debit card issued by MasterCard, as well as Google Pay support for offline spending.

The company intends to expand the service across the EU, where it currently claims 50 million active users.

The business developments that preceded the launch included the January 2020 acquisition of Estonian banking-as-a-service startup, Pocosys and takeover terms for the buyout of Lithuanian digital bank Fjord Bank.

“The total size of Opera’s investment into Dify is expected to exceed $100 million over the next few years, given we scale as expected,” says spokesperson Krystian Kolondra, EVP browsers & EEA fintech at Opera.

“This includes acquisitions, development cost and our marketing and distribution plans.”

The first version of the Dify app will allow consumers to receive eCommerce cashback for purchases made on partner websites accessed through the Opera browser.

Partner brands, which include Nike, Sephora and Asos, will appear in a new shopping-related tab on the Opera browser.

Says Kolondra: “Every day millions of people shop online and make their payments using the Opera browsers. With Dify, we are making the browser and a superior wallet work better, together, to improve users’ shopping experience and also make it financially rewarding.”

In the future, Opera’s plans include offering more wallet services like savings management, credit, investment opportunities and instant cashback.

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