Mastercard has announced that it will use Facebook Messenger to provide technology to small businesses in Africa and Asia to drive affordable acceptance of electronic and mobile payments.
Access to digital payments will help these businesses expand to new markets, and unlock financial services and products that enables them to grow their livelihoods.
According to a statement, this Messenger experience will launch in Nigeria, where Mastercard will pilot a new Masterpass QR bot to help business ownerâ€™s move beyond cash transactions to accepting QR payments. Ecobank and Zenith Bank are expected to support this inaugural program.
The pilot in Nigeria is the beginning of a larger plan by the two companies to include more businesses into the digital economy.
Commenting on the partnership, the Group Executive, Consumer Banking, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI),Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, said the initiative was in line with the bankâ€™s financial inclusion strategy to reach the underserved and unbanked in the society.
He noted that the partnership would further position Ecobank as a major enabler of digital payments across Africa and reinforce its goal to serve 100 million Africans by 2020.
According to research done by The Fletcher School and Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, of the $301 billion of funds flows from consumers to businesses in Nigeria, 98 per cent is still based on cash.
â€œEvery business owner is looking for ways to increase sales and draw new customers into their stores. By offering QR-based digital payments, smaller retailers can achieve these goals and create greater customer stickiness with little to no investment beyond the phone they already have,â€ the executive vice president, Digital Channels and Regions, Mastercard, Jorn Lambert said.
â€œMasterpass QR opens up new commerce channels for these merchants and enables them to create auditable transaction records. These advances open doors to other financial tools and products such as loans to drive added business growth.â€
To get started, businesses can send a request to the bot to enable QR payments, receive approval from the bank, set up an account and start accepting digital payments in a fast, simple and secure manner. Once the account set up process is complete, business owners can print and display the QR code in their stores or save the code on their phones. Customers can pay by either scanning the code from their smartphone or by entering the merchant ID associated with the QR code into their feature phone.