Visa and Mastercard invest in Africa’s financial future

Visa will invest $1b in Africa over the next five years to scale operations, deploy new innovative technologies and deepen collaboration with partners, including fintechs

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Visa and Mastercard invest in Africa’s financial future

Visa and Mastercard pledged to increase digitisation and financial inclusion across Africa at a recent event in Washington DC. 

Visa will invest $1b in Africa over the next five years to scale operations, deploy new innovative technologies and deepen collaboration with partners, including governments, financial institutions, mobile network operators, fintechs and merchants.  

The global payments firm said the investment will also strengthen the payments ecosystem, boost talent development and facilitate financial inclusion, with particular focus on small and women-led entrepreneurship through its community projects. 

The pledge comes in a bid to bring the continent in line with more established markets. Visa estimates 500m people in Africa don’t have access to formal financial services, less than 50% of the adult population make or receive digital payments, and more than 40m merchants do not accept digital payments. 

Visa recently made a number of investments to expand in Africa. It established local operations in Congo, Ethiopia and Sudan to strengthen the local financial ecosystem, and opened the first Visa Sub-Saharan Africa Innovation Studio in Kenya. 

It also introduced new technologies, such as Tap to Phone, launched programmes to support women, including She’s Next, and collaborated with partners to advance financial literacy, including an Arabic version of Practical Money Skills in Egypt.  

Aida Diarra, senior vice president of Visa Sub-Saharan Africa, commented: “Africa is experiencing an unprecedented digital acceleration, with a growing number of consumers, merchants and businesses realising the benefits of secure and convenient digital payments to fuel commerce and money movement.”  

On financial inclusion, Leila Serhan, senior vice president of Visa North Africa Levant and Pakistan, said: “Expanding financial inclusion is critical to long-term economic prosperity, and we are proud to have worked with financial and public sector partners to launch new initiatives such as She’s Next.”  

Mastercard  

At the close of the summit, US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Mastercard announced a collaboration to increase support to financial institutions and businesses engaged with Mastercard Community Pass 

Community Pass is a digital platform designed to address infrastructure challenges that arise in digitising rural communities, such as unreliable connectivity, low smartphone ownership and lack of consistent identification.  

DFC will support the investments, potentially worth up to $50m, within the Community Pass network, which is live in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Mauritania.  

Scott Nathan, chief executive officer of DFC, commented: “DFC and Mastercard’s work in bolstering financial inclusion and improving access to digital tools will help make progress toward our shared goal of bridging the digital divide.” 

Mastercard executive vice president of humanitarian and development, Tara Nathan, added: “The Community Pass platform enables businesses, governments, and NGOs to service rural and frequently offline communities. For example, farmers can access quality seeds, fertilizers, and buyers, as well as payments and credit.”  

Mastercard has also supported African startups through its Start Path programme.  

Image: Canva