Mastercard completes significant new payments technology infrastructure in South Africa

Mastercard Southern Africa country manager Gabriel Swanepoel

Mastercard Southern Africa country manager Gabriel Swanepoel

27th November 2023

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Payments services multinational Mastercard has completed the construction of significant new technological infrastructure in South Africa that will enable the company to process transactions locally and help to drive the modernisation of South Africa’s payments industry.

The new technology includes the launch of new data centres, which will enable the processing of local transactions more efficiently and securely. Mastercard’s priorities and investments closely align with the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB) national digital transformation agenda Vision 2025, which focuses on enhancing the digital ecosystem and supporting the African continent through locally relevant technology.

“The investment also aligns with Mastercard's strategy of adding one-billion people and 50-million small and microenterprise businesses to the formal digital economy over the next few years,” said Mastercard Southern Africa country manager Gabriel Swanepoel.

“Our investment will help the broader digitalisation and modernisation of infrastructure to provide fit-for-purpose financial services to the broader South African ecosystem.”

He highlighted the green shoots of growth emerging owing to increased use of digital payment methods and how the company has seen a three-fold increase in the use of electronic acceptance points for card-based payments in South Africa.

“None of this would be possible if we had not put the back-end infrastructure in place that enables consumers to efficiently and in a user-friendly way make payments to merchants,” Swanepoel emphasised.

Mastercard is diversifying its approach to payments in South Africa and is going beyond traditional card payments to offer a diverse range of tailored products and services.

Its acceptance footprint nationwide increased by approximately 200% since 2021 in various forms of digital payments options, including quantity recognition codes, automatic teller machines and point-of-sale terminals, thereby providing secure payment choices for consumers and improving business efficiency.

“This is profound, as we have now been operating in South Africa for more than four decades and we are still seeing significant growth. This tells us that the South African environment is robust, resilient and evolving as the new generation of digitally native consumers want to pay for goods and services how, where and when they want.

“The conversation will continue to examine how the exchange of value changes as technologies evolve. Business models have already evolved, with more card payments being used for a range of digital services and sales channels,” Swanepoel noted.

“A strong digital ecosystem is a top priority for our partners, policymakers and customers. That is why we have been committed to ensuring a resilient and world-class payments infrastructure for decades. As a trusted partner, we will continue to work alongside the SARB to make their Vision 2025 digital transformation agenda a reality.”

Mastercard develops, incubates and scales locally relevant solutions through local partnerships. Mastercard’s local technology investment has been set up with the involvement of partners and stakeholders to ensure that they can meet consumer demand, and this infrastructure helps them to continue this journey, he said.

The beneficiaries of the newly built infrastructure are financial services organisations, merchants and consumers through the effective and secure exchange of value for goods and services.

“There is a structural conversation to be had, hence the involvement of partners and stakeholders. The ecosystem as a whole must do what will be best for the country. Infrastructure creation is an opportunity to be part of the solution as the country modernises, and we are also looking to leverage it more broadly beyond South Africa,” he said.

“Convenience and the ability to facilitate the exchange of value in the marketplace will become more pronounced as technologies evolve, whether purchasing from a microenterprise or Amazon. Mastercard aims to connect consumers and merchants regardless of the technology,” he added.

Additionally, the company invests significantly into anti-fraud, anti-money-laundering and cybersecurity globally.

“Ensuring that we have safety and security and embedded certainty and trust among the stakeholders in the value chain remains top of mind for us. For Mastercard, the sanctity of the payment system is paramount, and we aim to provide the same security as we have over the past 40 years and ensure robust security as new channels allow new payment systems.”

Further, South Africa has an evolved and well-developed financial system, and Mastercard recognises the potential in the market. However, the company wants to partner with various stakeholders in the broader Southern African economic environment to facilitate the exchange of value and realise the potential present.

“Commerce is evolving, from the way people pay to the currency they choose to use. With investments in resilient financial systems infrastructure, diverse financial technology solutions, local and regional partnerships, and dedication to building financial inclusion, Mastercard is shaping the future of digital payments in South Africa and the broader African continent.”

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online




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