Seven years after placing its first smart terminal in Africa as part of a financial inclusion program, French terminal maker Ingenico says the program has progressed to where it now has 50,000 terminals that aid financial services in the region.

Ingenico has provided biometric terminals to capture applicants' fingerprints during enrollment and to validate identities for payments, transfers and loans for its long-term customer FINCA, an international microfinance institution.

The program has expanded to serve the unbanked populations in African countries such as Malawi, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

"This milestone is taking us to the forefront of the financial inclusion market in Africa, where three quarters of the population is still unbanked," Luciano Cavazzana, Eastern Europe and Africa managing director for Ingenico Group, stated in a Jan. 13 press release. "Through our technology, we address local challenges and seek to empower our end-customers to increase account ownership and broaden access to financial services."

Ingenico Group says it has strengthened its position in the region by supporting services beyond traditional card payments, such as branchless banking, microfinance, over the counter services and mobile money.

"Building a secure financial ecosystem for the underbanked population is an enormous challenge," Mike Gama-Lobo, vice president and regional director in Africa for FINCA, stated in the release.

Ingenico Group has proven it can adapt to local constraints through a single terminal, making them invaluable for FINCA staff to enroll customers, offer micro-loans and help them keep finances safe, Gama-Lobo added.

The major card brands have pushed financial inclusion programs for several years, seeking ways for unbanked citizens in underdeveloped countries to have access to the same financial tools of those in developed countries. Ingenico has been behind some of those efforts related to expanding use of mobile point of sale devices.

Also, MasterCard and Ecobank Transnational partnered in June of 2015 to expand electronic payments throughout Africa by supplying free card readers and issuing cards to use for ATM withdrawals.

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