Ecobank has signed a 10-yr partnership deal with MasterCard to issue debit cards for its customers in Nigeria.

The deal follows the recent licencing agreement between both the firms to provide MasterCard payment solutions in 28 sub-Saharan African nations.

The latest deal will see customers in Nigeria continue using the security and convenience of electronic payments, as against cash and other forms of transactions.

Ecobank Group domestic banking executive director, Patrick Akinwuntan, said electronic payment platforms provide a cost-effective way to improve financial inclusion in Africa, which is at the core of the vision of Ecobank.

"In teaming up with MasterCard, we are providing our customers with a best of breed solution, combining local market knowledge and proven technological expertise with the economies of scale," Akinwuntan added.

Ecobank Nigeria managing director, Jibril Aku, said using electronic payments to penetrate the country’s unbanked population of nearly 80 million also represents a market with huge, untapped potential.

MasterCard sub-Saharan Africa division president, Daniel Monehin, said they envisage a world beyond cash in Nigeria and Africa, where consumers can enjoy the security, efficiency and convenience of electronic payments.

"Our vision can only become a reality through collaborations with key industry stakeholders, such as the Ecobank Group. Working together with governments, financial institutions, merchants and businesses, we will be able to help modernize the payment industry in Africa," Monehin added.