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February 26, 2018

Mastercard and M-KOPA Solar join forces to light up homes in Africa

By Briony Richter

At Mobile Word Congress, Mastercard announced its partnership with M-KOPA to provide people in Africa living without electricity, a simple and seamless way to light up their homes and businesses.

M-KOPA will pilot Mastercard’s Quick Response (QR) payment technology in Uganda to extend the reach of its pay-as-you-go solar programme.

Masterpass QR, an open and interoperable technology will create a new payment channel for M-KOPA’s pay-as-you-go customers outside of Kenya.

The network of mobile network operators and banks using Masterpass QR will support M-KOPA in extending its reach across Africa without having to find additional technology investments.

Kiki Del Valle, senior vice president, Commerce for Every Device at Mastercard, said: “We may take for granted our ability to produce light with the simple flick of a switch. But for many around the world, simple things like having electricity can be life-changing.

“By using our digital payment capabilities, we want to make it easy for people to access reliable and regular sources of energy and become more economically resilient – earn a livelihood by working from home, keep shops and businesses open for longer and study after dark.”

Many people across the continent have little or no access to electricity. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, 625 million people lack access to electricity, relying on bio and fossil fuels such as wood, charcoal and kerosene.

By using pay-as-you-go financing, customers of M-KOPA  can purchase a solar home system on credit and make small daily payments using mobile money. It’s cheaper than using kerosene lamps and customers can top up their solar accounts seamlessly by either scanning a QR code from their smartphone, or by entering the merchant ID associated with the QR code.

Nick Hughes, co-founder and chief product officer of M-KOPA Solar, added: “We’ve proven that the pay-as-you-go solar model works in East Africa, but the off-grid market in Africa is tremendous. Our partnership with Mastercard provides the roadway for more solar services and infrastructure across the continent.

“QR technology holds great opportunity to extend the range of payment channels for customers and represents a step-change in our mutual goal to light up homes and businesses in Africa.”

Following a successful pilot, Mastercard and M-KOPA plan to extend the programme across East Africa. Masterpass QR is currently available in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.


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