FILE PHOTO: Illustration photo of a Mastercard logo on a credit card

JOHANNESBURG - Mastercard has teamed up with Vodacom to introduce the first online card in Tanzania – the M-Pesa virtual card, the companies said on Tuesday.

The virtual card will allow M-Pesa mobile wallet holders to make payments on any local or international website or app where Mastercard is accepted for payment, without the need for a bank account or credit card.  

"Vodacom’s M-Pesa is already an industry trailblazer with over 8.2 million subscribers and over 100,000 agents countrywide that enable citizens to transact safely and easily, but customers are limited when it comes to making online payments on international websites," Vodacom Tanzania acting managing director Hisham Hendi said.

"The introduction of this functionality through the M-Pesa virtual card will revolutionize how people transact by removing the barrier of having bank accounts and risk of putting bank details online."

Africa's mobile internet connections are expected to grow rapidly due to affordable smartphones and high-speed networks being rolled out by mobile network operators like Vodacom, creating a demand for digital content, social media, m-commerce and even online education and a need to make payments easily and securely.

“The continued roll out of innovative technology solutions in the e-commerce space represents an opportunity for greater financial inclusion and means that more people will be able to make payments, without the inconvenience of cash," said Raghav Prasad, Mastercard division president in sub-Saharan Africa.

"With 60 percent of these transactions happening on mobile platforms, the future of financial inclusion undoubtedly lies in the mobile device that most of us carry around with us."

Simple and secure online payments have been proven to improve access to financial services, widely allowing more people to become part of the financial mainstream. 

Tanzania has made strides in financially including its citizens in the past decade with the percentage of its population forming part of the economy rising from 15.8 percent in 2009 to 65.3 percent in 2017, driven largely by the introduction of easily accessible mobile wallet solutions like M-Pesa.

- African News Agency (ANA)