Digital Journal

MasterCard sees ease and convenience as the future of payments


Henzelene Heally interviewed Muhammad Nana from MasterCard, who looks after FinTech partnerships for the Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa region, based out of Johannesburg, South Africa. “My job is to deepen partnerships with fintechs, which is quite non-traditional in our world. We aim to create a segment that is fit-for-purpose across the region,” explains Nana.

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MasterCard’s increased visibility in the region means that “we are doing something right,” acknowledges Nana. Historically, Mastercard has been a banking partner, with a franchise network of over 50 years. About two or three years ago, it decided to evolve from solely partnering with banks to becoming a multi-segmented business.

Now it partners with fintechs, retailers, digital giants, and essentially anyone who touches a payment rail. Financial services are no longer unique to banks—telcos, fintechs, and others are also involved. “We have created an orchestration platform for these entities to send payments using our rails, whether it is via card, remittance service, or account-to-account service,” explains Nana.

MasterCard supports such partnerships by simply allowing payments to be sent from A to B in a safe and secure manner. Behind the MasterCard brand there is an extensive operation with around 30,000 to 40,000 employees globally operating in 210 markets. A salesforce brings in new business, a regulatory team ensures compliance with local market rules, a franchise team manages its 20,000 partners globally, and an AML team maintains the integrity of its ecosystem.

Collaboration with fintechs to develop new products has seen MasterCard shift to an API-first agenda. Its Mastercard Developers’ platform offers access to its solutions through APIs. “Fintechs can embed our products or services into their tech stack easily,” notes Nana. This platform has been around for at least three years and was recently remodeled for improved accessibility. In addition, programs like Starpath, Engage, and FinTech Express enables co-creation with fintechs to deliver specific solutions.

Startups engage with MasterCard by joining its Starpath platform, where it vets and sometimes invests in promising startups. “Their services become available to our 210 markets. We provide guidance, tools, and access to our extensive customer base, ensuring startups do not feel alone in their journey,” says Nana. Also, the Mastercard Accelerate platform and Engage program offer further opportunities for collaboration and innovation.

In terms of future trends in payments, Nana acknowledges that payments are evolving. “Consumers still value trust but now also seek ease and convenience. Partners who can meet these needs will be preferred. We have invested significantly in this space because we see it as the future of payments.”

Interview by Henzelene Heally

Henzie Healley is a common law qualified lawyer living in Dubai and services clients globally. Healley founded her first legal consultancy in 2019, evolving into The Counsel Services (TCS). She is qualified with an LLB with Honors in New Zealand and was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in 2014. Healley started her journey in Web3.0/Blockchain and digital assets in 2017 when setting up a crypto exchange in the UAE. In 2021 she was the legal counsel of a crypto mining company in the UAE and a virtual asset VC fund with USD100m in AUM. With over five years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Henzie and her team of lawyers have played a pivotal role in the growth and success of many companies in the Middle East region by providing legal guidance and support from seed, inception, to series rounds and IPO or exit.

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Vikas kaushik
Tech Junkie is a small word for Vikas Kaushik. Whether the latest game on the market or a new gadget launch he is the go-to person. He drives his motivation from the fast-paced technological advancements. He ensures that the right news reaches niche audiences. An avid biker and movie buff he has deep-rooted faith in upcoming technological inventions and is a torchbearer for the tech revolution.

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