Ecobank is making moves in the digital payments space, launching a mobile app and announcing a partnership with MasterCard to simplify the process of making mobile payments in the last couple of days.

Ecobank's new app will be available in the 33 countries they operate in, promising an instant and convenient way of banking via mobile. Customers will be able to open a new digital account with no more than a few clicks, with no paper references.

“The Ecobank Mobile App opens up opportunities for customers by allowing them to shop, transact and do business without cash", Ecobank Group CEO Ade Ayeyemi said at the launch event in Lagos. "At scale, this will be transformational for Africa. Through its purchasing power and Ecobank’s partnerships with Visa and Mastercard, the Ecobank Mobile App will be an accepted means of payment. With its removal of barriers to entry and affordable price points, the Ecobank Mobile App will empower the consumer to be on the move.”

“This product launch fulfils our promise to create relevant solutions for consumers", Ecobank’s Group Executive for Consumer Banking, Patrick Akinwuntan, added. "With the Ecobank Mobile App, Ecobank customers can now make and receive instant payments across 33 African countries on their mobile devices. They can also pay in store with their mobile phones. This is genuine convenience delivered to our consumers.”

At the launch, Mr. Akinwuntan demonstrated how to make a payment, how to send funds, and how to receive money from merchants using Ecobank Masterpass QR technology. He also showed that opening an XpressAccount was an instant and easy transaction.

The Masterpass QR service is targeted towards micro, small and medium enterprises, and through it, Ecobank's mobile banking customers will be able to safely pay for online and in-store purchases by scanning a Quick Response (QR) code displayed at checkout on their smartphones, or by entering a merchant identifier into feature phones.

The system is designed to make mobile-driven, Person-to-Merchant (P2M) payments possible, giving businesses a unique identifier that can trigger payments from the person's bank account to the merchant's. By having a static code rather than a point-of-sale machine, the system bypasses the challenges of expensive infrastructural issues associated with PoS devices, and eliminates the need for cash.

Masterpass QR is already in use in Nigeria, and will be rolled out to the 32 other countries that Ecobank operates in by the end of 2016.

Small businesses make up around 96 per cent of the Nigerian enterprise ecosystem, and a large percentage of these businesses use cash to transact businesses. Digital payments are therefore seen as a means to curb the insecurity that is associated with handling cash, while making transactions more convenient.

“With Ecobank Masterpass QR, our customers across 33 countries will now be able to make fast, simple and safe digital payments via Ecobank mobile banking loaded on their mobile device where Masterpass", Patrick Akinwuntan added.

“With partnerships such as the one we have with MasterCard, we are well-positioned to meet the growing demands of consumers and merchants across Africa. We will use Masterpass QR to leverage the power of digital to bring millions of people into the formal financial sector. Our mission at Ecobank is to build a world-class Pan-African bank that contributes to the integration and socio-economic development of the continent.Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO

The future if banking is mobile, and to keep up with the increasing competition and disruption in the mobile banking industry, banks are increasingly resorting to digital payment services to stay ahead of demand, even as consumption patterns change rapidly.

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