Somalia’s government is betting on QR codes, but low internet and smartphone penetration make debit cards a more resonant move. Mastercard is betting on cards with SomBank.
Mastercard, a leading global payment services provider, has partnered with SomBank, a Sharia-compliant bank in Somalia, to launch the SomBank Card, a Mastercard-branded debit card. The collaboration aims to enhance financial inclusion in Somalia by providing customers with access to digital payment options. In the initial phase of the partnership, 100,000 SomBank customers will receive the SomBank Card in 2023, with the potential for further expansion in subsequent years.
By offering digital payment services, this collaboration seeks to address the growing demand for convenient and secure transactions in Somalia. Customers will be able to make purchases, withdrawals, and online payments using the SomBank Card at Mastercard-accepted merchants and ATMs. The partnership represents a significant step towards improving financial access and empowering more Somalis to participate in the digital economy.
“As a global technology company with a deep commitment to financial inclusion, Mastercard is proud to partner with SomBank to bring digital payments to Somalia. This also supports our commitment to work with financial institutions to bring more people into the digital economy,” said Shehryar Ali, Country Manager for East Africa at Mastercard. “By providing access to secure and convenient payment solutions, we believe that this partnership will help drive economic growth and improve the lives of millions of Somalis.”
This strategic collaboration aligns with Mastercard’s broader strategy to expand its presence in regions with strong digital growth potential. Somalia, with its increasing (yet low) internet penetration and smartphone usage, offers a promising landscape for digital development. In 2021, Mastercard entered into partnerships with MyBank and Premier Bank in Somalia to further promote the digitalization of financial services.
The Mastercard-SomBank partnership marks an important milestone in Somalia’s journey towards financial inclusion. The introduction of the SomBank Card will offer a convenient payment solution for everyday transactions and provide access to essential financial services. As digital payment solutions become more accessible, the collaboration aims to drive economic growth and empower more Somalis to participate fully in the economy.
With the launch of the SomBank Card, Mastercard and SomBank are working together to accelerate the adoption of digital payments in Somalia, bringing the benefits of secure and convenient transactions to individuals and businesses alike. This partnership represents a significant stride towards a more inclusive and digitized financial ecosystem in Somalia.
“This is a truly remarkable day for us, as we take another step towards making banking more accessible for our customers. We are excited to partner with Mastercard to bring digital payment solutions to our customers,” said Abdullahi Aden, CEO of SomBank.
Somalia has been trying to rebuild its digital payments rails since most of its financial institutions crumbled in the aftermath of its 1991 wars. In June 2022, Techcabal reported the national launch of SOMQR, a standard QR code for the country. The move was criticised by several industry watchers, who cited the country’s low internet and smartphone penetration. For these experts, the bet should be on cards—exactly what Mastercard and SomBank are driving with their latest partnership.