Visa leverages football to push financial inclusion agenda

Andrew Torre, Regional President, Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA), Visa, Ahmad Ahmad, CAF President

Visa, the payment technology giant, has signalled its intention to drive financial inclusion and get the millions of Africans in the unbanked population into the banking and financial sector with its sponsorship of AFCON, the continent’s biggest football showpiece.

Speaking to the B&FT Weekend at the signing of the deal, Kemi Okusanya, Group Country Manager, Visa West Africa, noted that with football being the lifeblood of this continent, the company is readying innovative means to not just get fans to own Visa cards but through banks, fintechs and other merchants.

“One of the things that this partnership brings to us is that we are the exclusive payment partner at the event. We are also the preferred payment partner for purchase of tickets online and offline. What that means is that for people who want to participate in the event would have to experience Visa.

What happens if you are not a Visa cardholder means it gives you the opportunity to become a prepaid cardholder. We will work with our partner fintechs and banks to see very creative ways for people to come on board and participate in these events,” she said.

Kemi Okusanya, Group Country Manager, Visa West Africa

Ms. Okusanya added that Visa will continue to work with governments to see “what we can do further” but sees football as one of the great opportunities. “We will definitely, especially in some of our key markets, replicate some of the innovative ideas such as Visa on Mobile. This is access to payment on mobile which has a USSD option and scanning a QR code.”

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More education needed to increase financial inclusion

She pointed out that what is crucial in driving the financial inclusion agenda is more and more education, especially in the rural communities.

“Speak to the person in a rural area and they are thinking that banking is not safe for them. How do we change that mindset and make them feel more comfortable? Even though they have cooperatives, which is a form of banking, how do we offer them the same services but bringing them into the main financial sector?

The spread of the banks across Africa is concentrated in cities which is why the opportunity of having your bank on your phone will penetrate better and bring more people into the banking sector. At Visa what we do is study what the problem is and find solutions to address them and that is why our partnerships with fintechs and other financial service providers including telcos becomes very relevant as we start this trend,” she added.

With a plan to see about 80percent of ticket purchase done via Visa, Ms. Okusanya, added that one of the reasons why Visa enters these kinds of partnerships is the value it brings to clients, which is why the company is rolling out additional programmes to increase awareness and drive financial inclusion.

Commemorative Visa cards

At the upcoming AFCON in the summer of 2019, Visa’s prepaid cards, according to Ms. Okusanya, will emblazoned with the CAF logo and other designs which will entice people to own one.

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“We continue to drive payment innovation and we have done this with a lot of the tournaments we have such as the Olympics and FIFA tournaments and we want to replicate that by bringing those great payment innovation technologies into CAF tourneys.”

Visa has a long and proud history of supporting football, having been a sponsor of the FIFA World Cup since 2007. Coming off the back of a successful 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign in Russia and with preparations underway for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, this association builds on Visa’s strategy to bring the best of their sponsorship experience on the global stage to regional tournaments.

CAF’s view

Ahmad Ahmad, President, Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) said: “The benefits of investing in African football are clear to see, and with football being the number one passion of consumers across the continent we’re delighted to welcome Visa as a sponsor of the Total AFCON tournament.

Through this partnership with CAF, Visa will be able to connect further with its customers and leverage CAF as an innovative marketing platform. Africa is now more connected than ever before, and Visa’s payment network will play a vital role in reaching and rewarding fans across the region. I’m certain that together we will take African football to the next level.”

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