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Mastercard has launched Fintech Express in the Middle East and Africa, a program designed to facilitate emerging fintechs’ launch and expansion.

Leveraging the power of partnerships and Mastercard’s expertise, technology, and global network, startups will now be able to focus on innovation that drives the digital economy.

Mastercard Fintech Express is designed for all types of fintechs: established fintechs wanting a direct license from Mastercard; as well as fintechs with the ambition to innovate through collaborating with ready-to-go Mastercard Engage partners. As such, the program is split into three core modules: Access, Build, Connect.

  • Access: Enabling regulated entities to obtain a Mastercard License and access Mastercard’s network through a streamlined onboarding process
  • Build: Fintechs as Processors/Enablers can become an Express Partner by building unique tech alliances and benefitting from all the advantages that Mastercard provides
  • Connect: Fintechs/Start-ups, looking to add payment solutions to their suite of products,  can easily connect with qualified Express Partners available on the Mastercard Engage web portal, and go live with Mastercard in a matter of days

The program supports digital payment innovators by making it simple to collaborate with Mastercard and its partners to launch new fintech products.

It is designed for fintech looking to add payment solutions to their suite of products, tech-savvy startups looking at serving a new segment as well as established players with ambitions to innovate through partnerships.

Becoming an Express Partner helps brands simplify the launch of payment solutions, shortening the process from a few months to a matter of days. Express Partners will also enjoy all the benefits of becoming a Qualified Mastercard Engage Partner.

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“Startups are forming exciting and diverse new collaborations with traditional financial institutions, thereby enhancing competitiveness while also bringing a host of new services and products to market. Mastercard is playing a central role in making these fintech partnerships a reality as their technology provider of choice.

“Technological advancement and innovation are steering the digital financial services industry as fintech players are becoming globally mainstream and an increasing influx of these players are competing with large traditional players.

“With today’s announcement, we are taking the next step in further empowering them to fulfill their ambitions of scale and speed,” said Gaurang Shah, Senior Vice President, Digital Payments & Labs, Middle East, and Africa, Mastercard.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is home to a range of fintech startups, supported by innovative initiatives to support these players throughout the region. MENA is home to over 1,200 fintech players, covering everything from credit to insurance to wealth management offered through a centralized cloud-based platform.

Some of the early players to have joined forces and created alliances in the Middle East and Africa under the new Express Partner program are:

  • MENA: Network International
  • South Africa: Ukheshe and Nedbank
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: Diamond Trust Bank, DPO Group, Selcom and Tutuka

As an Express Partner, Network International, a leading enabler of digital commerce in MENA and long-term Mastercard partner, will act as exclusive payments processor for Middle East fintechs, thus enabling and accelerating participants’ regional market entry.

“In the last decade fintechs have been pushing the boundaries of innovation and transforming our everyday lives. At Network, innovation is core to our ethos, and we believe that fostering a local culture of innovation is key to success.

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“We’re pleased to enter into this strategic collaboration with Mastercard, as part of our long-term commitment to support fintech and strengthen the UAE payment infrastructure,” said Samer Soliman, Managing Director, Middle East – Network International.

Mastercard Fintech Express falls under the umbrella of Mastercard Accelerate – Mastercard’s overarching fintech platform that gives start-ups and emerging brands support and assistance for every stage of their growth and transformation, from market entry to global expansion. Mastercard Accelerate is comprised of four main programmes: Fintech ExpressStart PathEngage, and Developers.

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