East Africa is set to benefit from a new innovation lab by MasterCard that aims to use new products and services, developed by startups at the lab, to improve the lives of people across the region who find it difficult to access digital payment plans.
MasterCard expects to offer these benefits to the large populations of people that are plagued with poverty and who struggle to pay education fees or for health care treatment, through an initiative that will seek to develop cost-effective financial tools to expand access.
With millions of people in developing countries trapped in a cash economy where they are required to carry around cash as they lack financial services to build better lives, MasterCard hopes that the new initiative will help transform their lives for better.
The initiative, dubbed MasterCard Labs for Financial Inclusion has seen the launch of an 11 Million Dollars innovation lab to assist in generation of ideas from local entrepreneurs, governments and other stakeholders across the East Africa region.
MasterCard hopes that ideas generated through the lab will help the company create and scale financial services that lead to a world of financial inclusion and help build brighter futures for people.
According to the company, digital payment plans allow more people take advantage of formal financial services as they are simple to use and have potential to reduce costs, but even this being so, about 2.5 billion people across the globe are excluded from the financial system.
The 11 Million Dollars is a funding given to MasterCard to be spread out over a three-year period for use in research and development, with an additional 8 Million Dollars to be offered to startup ideas that reach the incubation stage.
Startups qualifying to the incubation stage at the labs will have a chance to become fully fledged businesses which are set to become a vital part of a new economy.
Ideas to be given special focus are those that promise to benefit poor communities by showing the widest possible applications and the capacity to extend the solutions regionally and even globally.
Products and services introduced through the MasterCard Lab are set to make use of standards that ensure maximum flexibility to empower local financial service providers in order to benefit of poor people in developing countries.
The Lab for East Africa that launched in Kenya puts MasterCard among the list of corporations investing in startups in order to help achieve financial inclusion and grow the economy.