Visa Inc. is reaching out to more customers worldwide by offering secure mobile financial services in partnership with mobile operators. Visa said it wants to reach out to the unbanked and under-banked customers via a new prepaid account that can be accessed through a mobile phone.
Visa is launching the service initially in Nigeria and Uganda in cooperation with MTN Grup, a telecommunications provider in Africa and the Middle East. Visa said developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America are among the first target markets for its new mobile-based prepaid product. However, aside from Africa, no specific time lines were released for the other regions.
The mobile platform was identified as the means to reach out to the underserved markets because of the popularity of mobile money programmes in developing countries. Visa cited a Jupiter Research 2011 study indicating that millions of people have been newly "banked" through mobile services.
"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, 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 Group said working with Visa to offer financial services also helps them expand their markets.
"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, chief commercial officer, MTN Group.
The mobile service will be using Fundamo, a mobile money platform recently acquired by Visa. The platform can connect to Visa's global payment network, VisaNet.
Aside from working with mobile operators, Visa said it is also working with financial institutions, government agencies and non-governmental organisations to bring financial services to more customers.
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