Somalia's Premier Bank has struck a deal with Mastercard and will issue debit cards and
The east African nation has struggled for more than two decades with civil war and containing an insurrection by Islamist militants which has meant even basic infrastructure has been beyond most of the country's 10 million people.
Yet with al Shabaab militants driven out of the capital Mogadishu and other major strongholds, business and consumer demand has grown for services which would be taken for granted in many other parts of the world, including banking."Somalia is a very under-penetrated market with less than 3 percent of its population banked," Mahat Mohamed Ahmed, managing director of Premier Bank, which received a licence from the central bank last year, told Reuters in Dubai. Carrying local currency in Somalia, a de facto dollarized economy, is cumbersome as $1 is worth 21,000 Somali shillings, and the only note in circulation is 1,000 shillings. For wealthier Somalis and visiting foreigners, carrying cash can be a dangerous task in cities rife with crime and awash with guns.Ahmed said in an interview that the Islamic lender, one of a handful of banks in Somalia, will soon