Zambian Fintech Startup Union54 Announces Development of Africa’s First Card Issuing API
Zambia-based Fintech startup Union54 has announced it has partnered with Mastercard to become a Mastercard Principle member, allowing the startup to become an authorized issuer of debit cards.
Union54 was launched in 2015 as Zazu by Perseus Mlambo and Alessandra Martini, as at the time, the startup was a challenger bank in Zambia. The startup aimed to enable African startups to issue virtual or physical debit cards with ease and enable users that users connect these cards to a wallet. This desire made the founders develop Union54 from Zazu, creating a platform with several APIs that make it simple for any Fintechs to issue programmable debit cards.
On the company’s site, there are eight cases for its API: digital banking, ledger-based, acquirers/gateways, buy now, pay later, credit union, delivery companies, credit card management, and corporate cards.
Perseus Mlambo CEO and co-founder of Union54 speaking on the development said that by eliminating the middleman in debit card issuing, the platform will help Fintech startups move quickly and directly.
“We’ve now used our membership to be able to help other companies, any African fintech who wants to issue their own cards. They can just come to us, plug into our APIs, and move quickly, without needing to spend a long time negotiating.
“The fascinating thing about these companies is that they are not B or C players. They are in the top 5% of African fintech. And for me, I always tell people, we’re now in the golden generation of African Fintech. So it’s really the perfect time for a card-issuing product to be able to work with all of these guys considered leaders in their space. It means we really do have something that people want to use every day” said Mlambo.
Fintechs using Union54 are also allowed to design the cards and set the currency in which they want the cards to be charged, and set an extensive catalog of who will use them, what they will be used for, when they will be used and how they will be used.
Union54 charges Fintechs on a pay-as-you-go basis for every API call. If a Fintech company wants to create a physical card, they are charged a flat fee between $7-9 and an undisclosed flat fee when a transaction is made.