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Crown Agents Bank, a UK regulated provider of wholesale FX and cross-border payment services connected across frontier and emerging markets, announced  that it has partnered with Vodacash SA to enable international mobile payments in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through the well-known M-Pesa brand.

Vodacash SA is a subsidiary of Vodacom Congo, which in turn is a subsidiary of Vodacom Group (Pty) Limited, South Africa and Vodafone Group, United Kingdom.

The partnership allows VodaCash, through Crown Agents Bank, to assist international development organisations to further the transition their payments to recipients and vendors from cash to digital, enhancing financial access, while at the same time reducing costs and delays.

Crown Agents Bank will integrate its payment gateway with the VodaCash platform and services to provide an easy and secure way for international development organisations to pay individuals directly into their mobile wallets.

This integration is the latest in a series of strategic partnerships the Crown Agents Bank is making to improve its reach and reliability in frontier markets and follows the recent collaboration with PayCode in Africa, the bank says.

Building on its existing partnerships in the DRC, the new relationship with VodaCash will give Crown Agents Bank greater coverage across the country, drawing on Vodacom Congo’s cellular network and the VodaCash agent network, to access previously difficult to reach locales. The Vodacom and Crown Agents Bank partnership marks the first in a series of planned integrations across Africa.

The benefits

Crown Agents Bank notes that M-Pesa is the largest mobile money brand with a strong market share (54%) and the largest distribution coverage to ensure availability of float service to payment beneficiaries. It also has a  rich product ecosystem to encourage customers to do more digital transactions.

As for Crown Agents Bank, it will now be able to deliver local payments to approximately two-thirds of the mobile money users across the DRC, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest nation by land mass, saving organisations and recipients considerable cost in time, money and risk of having to transfer significant amounts of cash over large distances.

“Being able to provide payments to mobile wallets in the DRC is an important step towards financial inclusivity. Along with our well-established FX capabilities across the continent, we are building out a suite of payment services that allow us to reach those who previously were unable to access financial services. The timing of the VodaCash collaboration is crucial, as we’re seeing an increased demand from IDOs making payments to mobile wallets in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Crown Agents Bank chief commercial officer Steve Marshall says.

Chris Williamson, the managing executive for M-Pesa at the Vodacom Group says: “We have a large number of customers who will benefit from our partnership with Crown Agents Bank. Payments have historically been challenging in the region, especially getting funds to those who are financially excluded and difficult to reach with traditional channels. The uptake of mobile wallets in DRC means more people can now receive payments with maximum convenience and minimum cost. By partnering with Crown Agents Bank to provide this service, we can ensure payments are delivered swiftly, safely and securely.”

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