Mastercard aims to provide 100 million Africans with a digital identity

Published 12 June 2024
- By Editorial Staff
There has long been widespread concern that digital IDs could be misused.

Mastercard is investing in the expansion of its Community Pass in Africa – a digital platform that combines a digital ID and wallet into a “smart card” – to help people in developing countries access government and humanitarian services.

The payments giant is partnering with the African Development Bank Group to bring digital identity and access to online services to 100 million individuals and businesses across Africa over the next 10 years.

The African Development Bank Group has pledged to invest $300 million in the initiative, called the Mobilizing Access to the Digital Economy (MADE) Alliance: Africa. Mastercard, for its part, has pledged to register 15 million users in Africa on the Community Pass platform within five years.

The initial focus will be on women in the agricultural sector, with the first pilot program launching in 2024 in Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria. The Alliance will work with local banks to provide digital identities and access to seeds and other resources. The program will then expand to Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana and the rest of the continent.

The Alliance also plans to work with public and private partners to provide connectivity and financial services, among other services.

Concerns about abuse

“Across Africa, people are driving new growth and opportunity, and Mastercard wants to support their success”, said Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach.

The announcement was made last week at the US-Africa Business Forum organized by the US Chamber of Commerce.

Community Pass was launched in 2020 as Mastercard’s social enterprise to digitize “underserved” communities. The solution is currently used by 3.5 million people, but the company plans to reach 30 million people by 2027.

At the same time, there are concerns that digital ID cards could be misused, fall into the wrong hands, or be used by corrupt regimes and agencies to control and monitor the population in much more far-reaching ways than today. Many people on social media also point out that developing countries in Africa are often used to “test” different practices that are then implemented in other parts of the world.

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