Mastercard has acquired South Africa-based payments technology start-up Oltio from Standard Bank Group to enhance digital payments services in Middle East and Africa.

Oltio’s portfolio includes various mobile payment and banking solutions, and an authentication technology designed to allow validation of Masterpass digital wallet transactions using PIN and mobile in South Africa.

Mastercard intends to utilise Oltio’s technology and infrastructure to boost its current digital solutions for merchants and issuers, equipping them to provide optimised payment experiences for consumers.

Mastercard Southern Africa division president Mark Elliott said: “Too many consumers and merchants in the MEA region are stuck in a cash economy that doesn’t work for them.

“By combining our joint expertise, technologies and reach, we can bridge the divide between the region’s cash economies and the digital future, bringing the benefits of digital payments to more people and businesses.”

Through the new deal, Mastercard issuers are expected to have added functionality such as person-to-person and bill payments, and airtime top-ups that can be embedded into existing mobile banking applications.

In case of merchants, the firm will bolster omni-channel acceptance solutions, which will allow even small businesses to accept digital payments.

Standard Bank Group executive of Card and Emerging Payments, Andrew Wilmot said: “We have had a great relationship with Mastercard over the years, and believe that Oltio will thrive as part of an issuer-independent payments company with Mastercard’s vast global resources and innovative technology.”