Mastercard is a market leader in the global payments industry. Its payments processing networks connects consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments, and businesses in more than 200 countries globally, including Kenya.
Mastercard branded debit and credit cards had a global market share of around 24 per cent between 2018 and 2020, according to analysis by Statista that looked at the market share of global card brands based on the total number of card transactions annually. Mastercard stands as a market leader alongside peers Visa and Union Pay.
Mastercard’s strong global presence, including market leadership in developed markets where trends like ecommerce have firmly taken root, has allowed it to benefit from the global shift to cashless payments in the last decade. This has allowed it to grow its business dramatically during this period.
Mastercard’s global revenues, which are primarily generated by charging financial institutions that issue Mastercard-branded payment products a usage-based fee, have more doubled since 2012. A review of the US multinational’s regulatory filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) indicate that its revenues have grown from $7.39 billion in 2012 to $18.88 billion in 2021.
The shift to cashless will continue driving Mastercard’s growth in coming years, especially in promising markets such as Kenya and the wider African region, where cashless transactions are getting increasingly popular.
New growth frontiers
Mastercard has existing commercial relationships with more than a dozen Kenyan commercial banks, including KCB Bank, Equity Bank, I&M Bank and Stanbic Bank, among others. This has allowed it to increase its penetration in the Kenyan market at a time when a record number of people are transacting using cards.
According to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), 42 million card transactions were made in Kenya in 2021, nearly 8 times more than the 5.5 million card transactions recorded in 2010. The value of these transactions has also exploded from Sh44 billion in 2010 to Sh194 billion in 2021. The market opportunity for players like Mastercard has never been greater.
Mastercard has taken the long view in Kenya and has invested in improving market readiness among small merchants. It has done this through strategic partnerships such as “Jaza Duka” (Swahili for “fill your shop”). Small merchants typically face capital constraints, a situation that limits their ability to stock up and increase the volume and channels of transactions, including accepting card payments.
Jaza Duka, a digital lending platform that Mastercard launched in Kenya in partnership with Unilever and Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), aims to address the issue of capital constraints among small merchants. Through the partnership, which was launched in 2018, merchants can order from Unilever using the platform and pay for the orders digitally. Since these transactions are digitized, KCB can monitor them and offer working capital loans to the small merchants.
To extend support towards Covid-19 economic recovery, Jaza Duka partners in 2021 pooled resources to provide retailers in the program with a business recovery package worth over $150,000. This package was delivered in the form of direct financial assistance, free health products and customized business education and training to help retailers navigate the Covid-19 business environment and build the foundation for mid- to long-term resilience.
Mastercard has also been active in the country’s start-up scene. It set up Mastercard Engage in Nigeria and Kenya in 2019. Mastercard Engage, among other things, connects startups to thousands of the company’s world-class technology partners.
One of the ways that global market leaders grow and stay competitive is through mergers, acquisitions and other similar transactions aimed at giving it exposure to new growth opportunities. Mastercard has mastered this playbook. In 2021, it invested $100 million towards the acquisition of a minority stake in the mobile money business arm of Airtel Africa. This puts it in a privileged position to benefit from the growth in mobile money across Africa, including Kenya where Airtel has a presence.
Mastercard’s acquisition of a minority stake in Airtel’s mobile money business is expected to accelerate convergence between mobile wallets and cards. This trend is already underway in Kenya. Safaricom in 2020 partnered with the payment processing company Visa to enable the development of products that will support digital payments for customers of M-PESA, the company’s mobile money service.
Bringing best practice to corporate citizenship
Mastercard’s corporate citizenship strategy is unique because, unlike most organizations, its main philanthropic and social development activities are planned and managed independently through its foundation.
The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada, with more than $7 billion in assets. Through collaboration with partner organizations in 46 countries, it is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper. The Foundation’s programs promote financial inclusion and advance youth learning, mostly in Africa. The Foundation has a strong and active presence in Kenya and has been especially instrumental in linking Kenyan youth to job opportunities in the digital economy.
Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide when it became a public company, the Foundation is a separate and independent entity. The policies, operations, and funding decisions of the Foundation are determined by its own Board of Directors and President and CEO.
This approach works for Mastercard as it allows it to use its resources strategically in the areas where it can drive the most social impact. Separating the commercial operations of a business from its philanthropic and social impact work is a global best practice in corporate citizenship recommended by leading by corporate governance experts worldwide.