Visa (NYSE: V) and the pan-African fintech leader MFS Africa today announced a partnership that will help bridge the gap between the rapidly growing mobile money ecosystem in Africa and the world of online digital payments, significantly expanding Visa’s reach and its ability to open up ecommerce to the region.
Mobile money wallets are already prevalent across Africa, but without a virtual or physical network credential associated with them, many international online services are unavailable to users. To help solve this problem, MFS Africa – Africa’s largest digital payments hub, connecting through one API more than 180 million mobile wallets on the continent – will distribute Visa payment credentials across multiple markets in Africa. This will allow mobile money users connected to the MFS platform to generate an instant Visa virtual card with a 16-digit number and link it to their mobile money accounts to use for remittances and ecommerce transactions.
MFS Africa will also integrate Visa’s real-time push payments solution Visa Direct, to provide mobile money users on the MFS Africa platform a fast, convenient and secure way to send and receive money and remittances directly from/into their mobile money wallets via eligible card credentials. According to the World Bank, remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa are set to increase by over 5.6% between 2019 and 2020, reaching $51 billion. However, the region is still the most expensive in the world to send money to, with an average cost of 9.3 percent.
“In the past few years, we have been relentlessly focused on creating new digital pathways between mobile money users in Africa. Having reached significant scale, we are now turning our focus to connecting our network to the wider world, to unleash the wealth of opportunity that trade with Africa presents to the global economy,” said Dare Okoudjou, founder and CEO of MFS Africa. “We have found in Visa an invaluable partner to support us in the next stage of our expansion. The reach of the Visa network is unparalleled, and we look forward to working with Visa to realise our vision of a world in which no one is limited in what they can achieve when it comes to payments.”
“Africa is adopting a mobile-led, digital payments ecosystem and with Visa looking to accelerate the distribution of payment credentials and expand the acceptance space for digital payments, this partnership is an important one,” said Jack Forestell, Executive Vice President, Chief Product Officer, Visa. “MFS Africa will help us enable digital payment use cases at scale through their aggregation model.”