MasterCard Plants M-Payments Flag in Egypt (June 25, 2013)
Will Egypt be next to ignite an m-payments program for millions of unbanked consumers, similar to M-Pesa’s success in Kenya? MasterCard Worldwide this week unveiled plans to roll out a mobile payment service in partnership with the National Bank of Egypt and mobile network operator Etisalat targeting millions of unbanked Egyptian consumers. MasterCard characterizes the program as an “early implementation” of the broad mobile payment program MasterCard is developing in conjunction with payments infrastructure supplier Egyptian Banks Company, in cooperation with Egypt’s Central Bank, to serve Egypt’s 94 million mobile users.
Billing the deal as the “world’s first interoperable Arabic mobile money program,” MasterCard said “Flous,” which means money in Arabic, represents the opportunity to bring mobile banking and payments to millions of Egyptian consumers whot use cash for most transactions. Subscribers to the Etisalat mobile network may use Flous to transfer money to anyone participating in the service via a mobile phone; load cash to their Flous accounts via their phones or get cash at 100 Etisalat outlets and 305 National Bank of Egypt branches across the nation. Eventually the program will support bill payment via mobile phones and the ability to top up mobile prepaid accounts, MasterCard said. The service eventually may include the opportunity to pay for goods and services at participating merchant locations in Egypt, according to the companies.
“With 65 percent of the population [in Egypt] lacking access to formal banking, the mobile phone is rapidly becoming the method of choice for making payments and managing money,” said Michael Mieback, MasterCard president, Middle East and Africa.