While consumers turned to online shopping and corporate meetings shifted to Zoom last year, stuck-at-home shoppers across the world went online to replenish their home and office supplies in a pandemic-saddled world.

From restaurants to supermarkets to grocery entities, companies have been improvising e-commerce channels and urging potential customers regardless of their locations to stay in and order in as a way shore up sales in a business environment where Covid-19 restrictions limited enjoyment of the traditional shopping experience.

This e-commerce momentum is set to intensify across 16 countries in Africa following a partnership between card payment giant, Mastercard, and telco giant, MTN, in a deal that will see millions of consumers make safe and secure online payment for goods and services.

Through the Mastercard electronic payment system linked to MTN MoMo (Mobile Money) wallets, buyers can engage with overseas brands and businesses through e-commerce, further extending their reach and choice across the globe.

According to data from GSMA – the group that represents telcom operators worldwide – 475 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa will be using the Internet by 2025.

This represents a 39 per cent jump from 272 million people recorded in 2019. By 2025, GSMA estimates that this segment of the economy will contribute about $184 billion to the region’s GDP up from $155 billion realized in 2019. 

Read also: GSMA certification, what this means for Kenya

In light of this potential, mobile financial services are becoming the go to option for digital payments with twice as many mobile money accounts as bank accounts in the region. 

There, however, remains a huge gap in connectivity in Africa where 800 million people are still not connected to the Internet thereby denying them the chance to participate in global e-commerce, GSMA data shows.

“We are very excited about this partnership with Mastercard, which is another step in realizing our ambition to build Africa’s largest fintech platform, accelerating economic and social development through digital innovation to the benefit of citizens across the continent and beyond,” said MTN Group Chief Digital and Fintech Officer Serigne Dioum. 

Consumers and businesses in Africa are mostly restricted to content with a pool of businesses within their countries in turn limiting the buyers’ ability to take advantage of products on sale in the global market. 

Through this partnership, MTN customers with a Mastercard virtual payment linked to their MoMo wallets can make payments to global online merchants through a seamless and secure digital payment on websites and mobile apps. The service is available regardless of whether or not a customer runs bank account.  

“This noteworthy partnership is another step to enable our customers to participate in the global economy. We are resolute that accelerated financial inclusion is a potent enabler of socio-economic development that empowers the most vulnerable in society,” added Serigne Dioum.

The deal will enable millions of e-shoppers across Africa to quickly and securely pay for streaming services, entertainment, accommodation among others. Small scale traders are also set to win big as they’ll securely purchase from suppliers abroad and pay through the electronic payment platform.

Tech giant MTN and Mastercard first launched the digital payment solution in 2018 targeting their MoMo customer base. The new collaboration fortifies a new wave of financial inclusion through mobile devices, which has the potential of unlocking opportunities for millions of customers across Africa keen on tapping into global trade.

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