Veon-owned Pakistan mobile wallet Jazzcash partnered Mastercard to expand the range of payment services available on its platform, with users able to apply for physical debit cards from the issuer as a result of the deal.

In a statement, Veon said in addition to an opportunity to widen access to digital payments, the partnership would improve financial inclusion during the Covid-19 (cornonavirus) pandemic.

Following the tie-up, its users will be able to make payments to Mastercard-linked retailers and order physical debit cards tied to their accounts. Jazzcash added its partner merchants will also be able to accept digital payments and digitise their supply chains.

The operator already offers co-branded Visa debit cards on its platform.

Veon co-CEO Sergi Herrero said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is highlighting the need for digital payments, more than ever before. This partnership with Mastercard will allow our more than 7 million customers and merchants to carry out their essential transactions in a safe and efficient way.”

Amnah Ajmal, EVP of Mastercard MEA added: “With a large percentage of Pakistan’s population still unable to access formal financial services, this partnership serves to drive financial inclusion in the country and will provide customers with a much simpler, faster and more secure way of making payments.”

The announcement comes a week after Veon announced Orange Money Madagascar CEO Erwan Gelebart would join Jazzcash later this month to lead the operation, having already booked an increase in users during Q1 and signed a deal with Telenor to collaborate on mutual settlement of mobile service charges.