China’s UnionPay International (UPI), has partnered with Kenya’s iPay to enable its cardholders to access about 8,000 online merchants across Africa.
The two firms said in a statement the deal will see UPI cardholders carry out transactions with several African brands.
“We believe that it is important for the public to understand the benefits of digital payments, beyond reducing physical contact during this difficult time. Smooth payment services and attractive promotions are key to fostering this understanding,” said Mr Luping Zhang, general manager at UnionPay International Africa Branch.
UPI says it has experienced an increased global online transaction of about 20 percent as more people adopt digital payments to minimise physical contact and cash handling amid the global pandemic.
In recent years, UPI has expanded its acceptance network to 178 countries and regions, with more than 8.4 billion UnionPay cards issued in 61 countries and regions.
“The addition of UnionPay was firmly within our strategic vision; seeing the rapid uptake of this card scheme globally and across Africa,” iPay managing director Philip Nyamwaya said.
In Africa, UnionPay cards have been issued in over 10 African countries and regions, including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, South Africa and Mauritius.
The Covid-19 pandemic has increasingly driven transactions away from cash, with cards being one of the preferred modes of payment alongside mobile money for those looking to avoid handling physical notes.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows that transactions via credit, debit cards and point-of-sale (PoS) machines grew by Sh1.64 billion to hit Sh165.56 billion in the first quarter of 2020 compared to Sh163.91 billion in the same period last year.
This was despite businesses seeing a drop in demand due to the global pandemic, with fewer customer deals.