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Visa, MasterCard Moving Into Mobile Pay in Africa

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This Nov. 18, 2009 file photo shows credit and bank cards with electronic chips in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. In the wake of recent high-profile data breaches, including this week’s revelation that hackers stole consumer data from eBay’s computer systems, Visa and MasterCard are renewing a push to speed the adoption of microchips into U.S. credit and debit cards. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

This Nov. 18, 2009 file photo shows credit and bank cards with electronic chips in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

KEN SWEET, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans may just be getting used to mobile pay, but consumers in many African countries have been paying with their phones for years. Now payment processors Visa and MasterCard want to get a slice of that market, and are launching card services aimed at Africa’s growing mobile payment industry.

VISA CARD WITH A CELL PHONE

Visa is partnering with African telecommunications company Bharti Airtel to link Visa cards to customers’ mobile phones. While many Africans do not have bank accounts, most have a cell phone — sometimes more than one. Gallup estimates that 80 percent of sub-Saharan African households have a cell phone, while only 2 percent have a landline.

For the past several years, Africans have been using linking their phones to prepaid payment accounts, in order to send money to each other, pay utility bills or buy more airtime.

Now Airtel Money subscribers in Kenya will be able to get a physical Visa card tied to their mobile payment accounts, so they can use their phone’s pre-paid account to shop in stores and online wherever Visa is accepted. They can also use the Visa card at the ATM to withdraw money from their Airtel Money account. Users will enter a PIN number into their phones each time they want to approve a transaction, said Bill Gajda, a Visa executive who works with mobile network operators.

As smartphones become more common on the continent, Apple Pay-like services are likely to be introduced as well, he said.

The service will be expanded to Gabon, Ghana, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles and Tanzania later this year.

EVERY EGYPTIAN TO GET A MASTERCARD

MasterCard announced a partnership with the Egyptian Government this week that will eventually attach a MasterCard to every Egyptian’s national identification card.

In Egypt, there are more cell phones than people. Mobile penetration in the country was 113 percent in 2012, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Communication. Like their sub-Saharan counterparts, a growing number of Egyptians use their cellphones as mobile payment accounts. Less than 5 percent of Egypt’s 54 million citizens have a formal bank account, according to the World Bank.

As part of the agreement with MasterCard, the government will issue digital ID cards which can be used to pay for services including government fees, mobile bills, and items in stores. It will pay salaries and social benefits through the card as well. Each Egyptian will be able to link that mobile payment account to a MasterCard number that will eventually be displayed on the ID.

MasterCard did not have a timetable for when the service will be introduced, and the company said the privacy issues related to having a national ID attached to a credit card number will still need to be resolved.

MasterCard also said it is doing mobile pay deals in Zimbabwe and Nigeria to allow certain banking customers in those countries to receive funds sent by family and friends abroad directly into mobile pay accounts. Those with companion MasterCard debit cards can then withdraw money at ATMs and pay for goods and services anywhere MasterCard is accepted.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

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Newsom Admin Takes Steps to Stabilize California’s Troubled Insurance Market

As growing numbers of Insurance companies announce plans to exit California’s insurance market — or cancel customers’ policies — Gov. Gavin Newsom says his administration is taking steps to reverse the trend. Speaking during a news briefing on May 31, Newsom highlighted the plan, which was unveiled as part of a trailer bill on May 28.

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By California Black Media

As growing numbers of Insurance companies announce plans to exit California’s insurance market — or cancel customers’ policies — Gov. Gavin Newsom says his administration is taking steps to reverse the trend. Speaking during a news briefing on May 31, Newsom highlighted the plan, which was unveiled as part of a trailer bill on May 28.

Newsom said the proposal speeds up approvals for rate increases and addresses rising costs resulting from incidents like wildfires. Newsom said, under his plan, the Department of Insurance will be required to decide and respond to rate increase requests within 120 days. The plan also calls for streamlining the process for filing for increases; builds in two 330-deay extensions for finalizing rate changes; and provides room for insurers to appeal decisions.

“We need to stabilize this market,” Newsom said. “We need to send the right signals.

Proponents, mainly insurance industry representatives like the Personal Insurance Federation of California, are praising the Governor’s actions while consumer advocates warn that the plan is a threat to public intervention rights California’s Prop 103, a 1988 state law adopted to protect state residents from “arbitrary insurance rates and practices.”

Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara thanked Newsom for backing his office’s plan.

“To safeguard the integrity of the insurance market – composed of consumers, homeowners, and business owners – we must fix a system suffering from decades of deferral and delay,” said Lara in a statement. “This measure is one of several parts of a comprehensive plan to enact long-overdue regulatory reforms. The Legislature can do its part to support my reforms by giving this proposal a fair and full consideration, including public input. By enacting this important part of our strategy in statute, the Legislature can help us meet the urgency of the moment.

Lara is working on a longer-term strategy to shore up the insurance market that is expected to be released in December.

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Oakland Post: Week of June 5 – 11, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of June 5 – 11, 2024

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