By Watchdog reporter

Centenary Bank and Mastercard have on Wednesday announced at the Annual Bankers’ Conference their multi-prolonged approach to digitising Uganda’s economy in support of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy.

Following the recent signing of a strategic partnership agreement focused on boosting financial inclusion in the East African market, the two partners have further strengthened their partnership by signing a Commercial Banking Agreement (CBA) which will see the roll out of a broad suite of digital payment solutions.

The introduction of both agreements will further assist in delivering on Uganda’s National Vision 2040, which aims to transform the country into a prosperous African economic powerhouse, where businesses can grow and people are able to prosper.

This partnership will help strengthen the National Payment Ecosystem through the introduction of relevant payment solutions including Masterpass QR, payment card solutions including debit, prepaid, and credit as well as premium solutions.

“In June, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija delivered the 2017/18 budget speech which re-emphasised the importance of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy. The ground breaking strategy seeks to address five major drivers of financial inclusion: accessibility of financial services, credit infrastructure, and digitisation of financial services, appropriate and innovative financial products and consumer financial protection,” said Mr. Fabian Kasi, Managing Director Centenary Bank.

It is clear to see why the National Financial Inclusion Strategy is needed, according to the 2016 Financial Inclusion Insights Survey, only 11 out of every 100 adults in Uganda have access to a bank account. However, 53 percent of adults are using mobile payment solutions to transact. The introduction of the mobile-driven person-to-merchant (P2M) solution by Mastercard called, Masterpass QR, will help turn citizen’s mobile phones into a payment and acceptance tool.

“In our position as the largest commercial microfinance bank in country, with over 1.4 million customers, we are committed to delivering solutions that meet the diverse needs of people, especially those living in rural areas. Part of this commitment is working alongside partners that share our vision, and Mastercard will work with us to diversify our services and solutions,” explained Mr. Kasi.

“We will also be working with the Mastercard Advisors team to develop a strong framework for current and future interventions, with the help of market and global insights.”

“The partnership is part of the Mastercard commitment to financially empower 100 million people in Africa by 2020,” said Chris Bwakira, Vice President and Area Business Head for East Africa, Mastercard. “We have made significant strides this year in Uganda, with our recent agreement with the Uganda Bankers’ Association and the work we are doing through the Mastercard Labs for Financial Inclusion.”

Bwakira concluded by saying, “We are pleased to be part of this transformation journey in Uganda, and there is still much to be done to ensure we don’t only provide access but that together we also ensure usage of financial tools that will assist Ugandans to have a financial history giving them the power to build a stronger future for themselves and their families.”