MasterCard has signed a partnership with Premier Bank to issue and accept the first MasterCard-branded payment cards in Somalia.

Through this partnership, MasterCard will become the first international payments network to enter Somalia.

Premier Bank will issue 5,000 MasterCard debit cards this year, followed by prepaid cards, and point of sale (POS) machines. The cards will be accepted at all Premier Bank ATMs to withdraw cash.

The cards will allow Somalis to withdraw funds from any MasterCard-licensed ATM globally, shop online, and pay for goods and services at millions of merchants that accept MasterCard payment cards across the world.

The launch of the MasterCard payments network in Somalia will provide government agencies an efficient platform to transfer salary disbursements and also allow foreigners, expatriates and international aid organisations to transfer funds to Somalia.

Somalian minister of planning and international cooperation Abdirahman Yusuf Ali Aynte said: "Reassuring foreign investors, Somalis in the diaspora and those distributing aid that our financial systems are secure and properly regulated is critical to Somalia’s economic well-being."

Premier Bank managing director Mahat Mohamed Ahmed said: "It is our hope that increasing payment card usage in Somalia will encourage merchants and citizens to demand more electronic payments services as they engage with and contribute to the formal economy."

MasterCard sub-Saharan division president Africa Daniel Monehin said: "Our agreement with Premier Bank comes at a time when MasterCard is working closely with governments and financial institutions across Africa to introduce safe and simple financial solutions, achieving our vision of a world beyond cash."