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New finance innovation lab in Nairobi

East Africa moves closer to cashless economy.

A new innovation lab by MasterCard aims to affect 100 million lives globally by unleashing digital financial tools. The lab will develop ideas and include local entrepreneurs and government in implementing them.

The lab that is set to be opened in Nairobi, Kenya has already received a three year US$11 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Foundation will additionally fund ideas that come out of the lab to a tune totalling US$8 million.

The setting up of the lab in East Africa cements the progress that mobile money has in the region and helping many to move to a cashless economy.

"The beauty of the lab is that it is located where it is trying to solve the problem. It is not located away from the problem or away to where it cannot relate. The issues it is trying to resolve is in the everyday life in East Africa," Daniel Monehin, Division President, Sub Saharan Africa at MasterCard said.

Even though the solutions will be developed in East Africa, it is expected to be replicated across the globe where digital financial inclusion is a challenge.

"Too many people lack access to the most basic financial services, leaving them trapped in a cash economy that imposes greater risks and costs on those least able to afford them," said Ajay Banga, president and CEO at MasterCard.

"Through the investment made by the Gates Foundation, coupled with our strong innovation processes, MasterCard will create and scale financial services that open up a world of inclusion and help people build better, brighter futures."

The grant enables the Gates Foundation to extend financial services,while helping MasterCard to reach to new markets.

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