MasterCard Initiative for South Africa’s Smaller Retailers

MasterCard has agreed a partnership with South Africa’s Blue Label Telecoms in an initiative to equip 22,000 of the country’s small traders and rural shops with point of sale (POS) devices, enabling them to accept card payments for the first time.

Blue Label already provides thousands of POS terminals in South Africa, which are used predominantly to sell prepaid vouchers such as airtime and electricity. Servicing millions of customers in rural areas and under-served settlements, these traders have historically operated on a cash-only basis.

“Over and above the estimated 100,000 spaza shops [small-scale, home-based grocery stores] spread across South Africa, there are tens of thousands of small- and medium-sized retailers and service providers,” said Blue Label’s joint chief executive (CEO), Mark Levy.

“Through our partnership with MasterCard, we will introduce many of these businesses to the safety, security, and convenience of electronic payments, enabling financial inclusion in communities where consumers have largely been unable to use formal payment products.”

MasterCard South Africa division president Philip Panaino said that although the number of South Africans with access to formal banking products has increased significantly in the past year, the number of card acceptance locations – especially in rural and outer urban areas – had not kept pace.

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