In a bid to enhance financial transactions and promote digital payments in Somalia, the government has placed its focus on QR codes. However, due to challenges related to low internet penetration and limited smartphone usage in the country, implementing debit cards appears to be a more viable and effective option.Mastercard, in collaboration with SomBank, is actively involved in this initiative, betting on debit cards’ success and widespread adoption to advance digital financial services in Somalia.
Mastercard, a prominent provider of payment services worldwide, has joined forces with SomBank, a Sharia-compliant bank in Somalia, to introduce the SomBank Card—an official Mastercard-branded debit card. This partnership aims to bolster financial inclusion in Somalia by granting customers access to digital payment alternatives. Initially, the collaboration intends to distribute the SomBank Card to 100,000 SomBank customers in 2023, with the possibility of further expansion in the following years. The introduction of the debit card is expected to facilitate convenient and secure financial transactions, promoting economic growth and improving access to financial services in the country.
The collaboration between Mastercard and SomBank aims to meet the increasing need for secure and convenient digital payment services in Somalia. With the introduction of the SomBank Card, customers can make purchases, withdrawals, and online payments at Mastercard-accepted merchants and ATMs. This partnership signifies a noteworthy advancement in enhancing financial access and enabling a larger portion of the Somali population to participate actively in the digital economy.
The strategic collaboration between Mastercard and SomBank in Somalia aligns with Mastercard’s wider strategy to expand its footprint in regions that exhibit substantial digital growth prospects. With its emerging internet penetration and smartphone usage, Somalia presents a promising landscape for digital advancements. In pursuit of this strategy, Mastercard forged partnerships with MyBank and Premier Bank in 2021 to foster the digitization of financial services in Somalia. These collaborations reflect Mastercard’s commitment to promoting the adoption of digital payments and advancing financial inclusion in the country
The launch of the SomBank Card marks a notable milestone in the collaborative efforts of Mastercard and SomBank to expedite the uptake of digital payments in Somalia. By introducing secure and convenient transaction options, this partnership aims to extend the advantages of digital payments to individuals and businesses. Mastercard and SomBank are working closely together to develop a more open and digital financial ecosystem in Somalia.
The CEO of SomBank, Abdullahi Aden, talked about how excited he was about the relationship with Mastercard and how important it was to make banking easier for customers. He said, “This is a really big day for us as we take another step toward giving our customers digital payment options.”
Somalia has been working to rebuild its digital payment infrastructure since the collapse of many financial institutions during the aftermath of the country’s wars in 1991. In June 2022, the national launch of SOMQR, a standardized QR code for the country, was reported by Techcabal. However, this move faced criticism from industry experts who highlighted the challenges of Somalia’s low internet and smartphone penetration. According to these professionals, the emphasis should be on card-based solutions, which Mastercard and SomBank promote with their most recent collaboration.