Global payments solutions firm MasterCard on Thursday launched its official East African regional headquarters in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, bringing the number of the firm’s offices across the African continent to five.

The Nairobi office will act as MasterCard’s liaison office for customer banks, business associates and consumers in its main markets of Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, Ethiopia and Uganda, as well as across the rest of the East African region, promoting electronic payments practice to these markets.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga welcomed the launch, saying the company’s products will see the benefits of inclusion into the financial system extended to many more East Africans where people and companies can conduct electronic transactions to keep their money safe.

“We are pleased to welcome MasterCard to East Africa and in particular to Kenya, as we see the region’s growth path continue,” Odinga said.

MasterCard’s entry into the Kenyan market is seen as its attempt to tap into the expanding usage of cards in the east Africa’s biggest economy.

Analysts said with an expanding economy, a growing middle class and consistent financial education, more and more Kenyans are traveling, while increased access to the internet and awareness of a cashless culture have led to increased usage of cards.

The company has already been active in the Kenyan market working with banks and other business organizations to advise on developing payment solutions that are best suited for Kenyans. The most recent effort was a collaboration with Airtel & Standard Chartered Bank, in which the world’s first virtual card that operates off a mobile wallet was launched in Kenya.

“Nairobi’s reputation as an African commerce, trade and development hub made it a strategically sound location for MasterCard to establish its regional headquarter. We believe it is a natural recognition of Kenya’s role as the financial heart of the East African region,” said Daniel Monehin, Area Head, East & West Africa and Indian Ocean Islands, MasterCard Worldwide.




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