Spurred by steady growth and in line with its investment focus on the continent, Mastercard has appointed Raghav Prasad as division president for sub-Saharan Africa.
An announcement statement by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Mastercard indicated that Prasad’s remit would include strengthening the company’s ongoing commitment to delivering value to customers and consumers in Africa by leveraging technology to build stronger and more inclusive payment ecosystems.
“Prasad brings his extensive 30-year global financial services and payments industry experience to further Mastercard’s goal of financially including 100 million people by 2020 – an objective that can only be achieved by working with partners across the public and private sectors and by introducing market-relevant digital payment solutions such as Masterpass QR, Mastercard Payment Gateway Services along with its core Debit, Credit, Prepaid and Commercial solutions,” the statement read.
With a proven track record as a leader, Prasad is said to have a deep understanding of the payments sector, and brings unique insights into the region honed while running his own consulting practice focusing on the Middle East and Africa as well as working for global players like Citibank and RBS.
“The influence and true potential of technology is seen on the continent like almost nowhere else in the world. Africa has an amazing advantage of not having invested in legacy infrastructure and can embrace the latest technologies, especially mobile, to transform the payments landscape. Technology innovation is influencing the way consumers engage with the world around them, shaping economies, creating smarter, more connected and financially inclusive cities,” said Prasad.
Mobile continues to act as a critical conduit of growth in sub-Saharan Africa, currently accounting for nearly a tenth of the global mobile subscriber base and is predicted to grow faster than any other region globally over the next five years. Additionally, the World Bank estimates that over 64 million adults in the region already have a mobile money account – making it the most easily accessible technology for those currently excluded from the formal financial services sector.
It also serves as an increasingly important tool for the continent’s growing youth population. Africa will become the youngest and most populous continent in the next few decades, according to the Africa Development Bank Outlook 2018 Report. Its labour force will expand to nearly two billion in 2063, a trend that is supported by the fact that over 12 million young people join the workforce every year.
Prasad predicts that the demographic dividend of a large young and tech-savvy population will lead to many of these youth starting up businesses of their own, and becoming job creators.
“Our work in supporting the MSME sector is critical to our role in Africa, and solutions such as Masterpass QR are turning the tide on cash dependency as well as helping millions of merchants to go digital for the first time. This is more attractive for businesses and consumers alike – and we see youth being a key driver of the adoption of new technologies now, and in the future,” he said.