Union54, the Zambian fintech startup whose operations got halted as a result of a chargeback fraud debacle last year, is launching a superapp in partnership with Mastercard.

Following the $1.2 billion chargeback fraud fiasco which saw the startup halting operations for eleven months, Zambian fintech Union54 is back with another product: a superapp called ChitChat.

ChitChat is a collaborative effort between Union54 and global payments technology company Mastercard and will enable users across Africa to send messages over an encrypted platform. ChitChat will also double as a  social commerce platform, enabling users to send each other money, access a USD debit card, and purchase from digital storefronts within the app. ChitChat’s card and payments features, supported by Mastercard integration, will roll out in a beta for Angola, Tanzania, and Ghana with more markets to be added this year. 

“We are excited to announce our ChitChat product and at the same time, announce our expanded partnership with Mastercard,” said Perseus Mlambo, CEO of Union54. “We believe that mobile payments and chat platforms can be a powerful force for increasing trade across Africa, and we are committed to building a platform that accelerates this. We’ve built payments into a chat platform, giving everyone a USD card on demand – on our terms.”

Union54 and Mastercard claim to have issued over 2 million cards to Africans through their partnership. 

“We are delighted to deepen our partnership with Union54 as we work towards creating a world beyond cash. Our collaboration will not only enable us to expand our reach into new markets, but it will also provide consumers with a secure and convenient way to access financial services,” said Gabriel Swanepoel, country manager at Mastercard, southern Africa.

In July 2022, Union54 halted its services following an attempted $1.2 billion chargeback fraud which saw many African startups that previously used its card-issuing services rush to find alternatives. In an interview with TechCrunch in March this year, Mlambo stated that Union54 intended to use lessons from the event and their subsequent hiatus to re-enter the African fintech market, a promise which has culminated in the launch of ChitChat.

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