The National Association of Saving and Credit Unions (NASCU), the apex organisation for all financial cooperatives in Zambia, and global payments technology company Mastercard have entered into an agreement to drive financial inclusion by extending formal financial products and services to underserved members of cooperatives.
According to a statement issued by the partners, NASCU will introduce "a secure, efficient and transparent" electronic payment system to streamline and automate payments including payroll, loans, and disbursements to its savings and credit cooperative members.
The organisation will also issue 1.5 million Mastercard contactless debit payment cards to its members over the next five years, providing them with a convenient electronic payment tool to receive and make safe and simple payments for everyday commerce activities.
The companies believe the initiative aligns with Zambia's National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2017 to 2022 – which aims to increase financial inclusion from 59% to 80% "by enabling more people and businesses to access digital payments and formal financial services."
William Kanyika, Managing Director of NASCU, said, "We are pleased to partner with Mastercard to deliver world class services and products to our cooperative members, allowing them to reap the benefits of financial inclusion and improve their livelihoods. By electronifying our payments system, we can better understand our cooperative members' behaviours and needs, in turn allowing us to deliver better quality products and services in support of the government's vision to deliver financial services to every citizen in the country."
This initiative will enable cardholders to securely transact around the world at any Point of Sale or ATM that accepts Mastercard, according to the agreement.
"Savings and Credit unions provide a vital role in connecting the underserved to financial services and the formal economy," says Mark Elliott, division president of Mastercard Southern Africa. "This collaboration with NASCU represents a major step forward in our strategy to create a cashless society and build an inclusive financial sector that supports the socio-economic development of the country."