Visa Inc. recently announced a significant step to bringing access to secure financial services and electronic payments to consumers in developing countries by introducing a new product serving the needs of unbanked and under-banked consumers.
The new product, a Visa prepaid account that can be accessed through a mobile phone, offers consumers in developing countries a secure, reliable, globally interoperable electronic payment account.
MTN Group, a leading telecommunications provider in Africa and the Middle East, plans to offer the new Visa product to MTN Mobile Money customers across its markets. As part of the launch, the new product will be available to customers in Nigeria and Uganda.
Today, more than one hundred mobile money programs provide consumers in developing countries with basic financial services, with several more being planned by mobile network operators and financial institutions.
Visa’s new product will enhance the security, scale and interoperability of these mobile money programs, while extending their payment functionality by enabling account holders to send funds to each other, send and receive international remittances, make purchases at merchants or online where Visa is accepted or withdraw funds at a Visa ATM.
“Reaching consumers who have previously lacked access to formal financial services with secure and reliable electronic payments is finally a reality,” said Jim McCarthy, head of product for Visa Inc. “Mobile technology has become the single most important driver of financial inclusion that is enabling financial institutions, mobile network operators and Visa to connect unbanked consumers to each other and the global economy.”
MTN Mobile Money has been implemented in 12 countries. At 30 September 2011, there were 5.7 million registered mobile money customers.
“The launch of this product with Visa doesn’t only enhance our current mobile money offering, but also represents yet another crucial milestone in our journey to bring value-adding services to the growing population of mobile phone users in our markets. And as the appetite for mobile technology grows, MTN is excited to be at the forefront of providing millions of our customers with such important product innovations,” said Christian de Faria, MTN Group Chief Commercial Officer.
Developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America are among the first target markets for Visa’s new mobile-based prepaid product.
Visa is working closely with financial institutions, mobile network operators, governments and non-governmental organisations in developing countries to extend access to financial services and electronic payments, helping drive economic growth and financial inclusion by migrating cash spend to electronic payments.