Visa launching mobile payments in developing countries

Visa is planning to launch a mobile payments service that will allow consumers in developing countries to make payments using their mobile phones, according to the firm’s president. Users will be able to load money onto special accounts at kiosks in major towns and cities, and pay for goods, bills and services using text messages or via a Visa mobile app. The comments come hot on the heels of Visa’s announcement that it plans to launch its digital wallet mobile service next year, as the firm’s push into digital payments gathers momentum.

“It won’t require a physical card attached to the account,” says Visa president John Partridge. “It’s a virtual prepaid account designed specifically for the mobile market in the developing world.”

The platform will be bolstered by Visa’s acquisition of international payment firm Fundamo and partnership with telecoms company MTN Group in June this year. The deals will form the foundation of the firm’s efforts to push the service across both developed and emerging markets, as the company joins operators, credit card firms and manufacturers jostling for a slice of the lucrative mobile payments market.

Describing the service as “branchless banking” the credit card giant plans to launch the product in Nigeria and Uganda before rolling out across the rest of Africa, as well as Latin America and Asian markets. “We’re looking to grow our revenue outside of the US to balance the revenue growth between the US and the rest of the world,” says Partridge. Visa outlined its strategy for “next generation” payment solutions a few months ago, saying that the new deals will accelerate its drive to pull in “unbanked and underbanked” consumers around the world.

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