Visa looks to partner MFIs, fintechs in financial inclusion drive…as payment giant opens office in Accra

Adoma Peprah

Visa, the global payment technology company, is looking at partnerships with financial technology companies (fintechs), microfinance companies, savings and loans companies, susu collectors and credit unions to bring more Ghanaians into the financial system as it opens its first permanent office in Accra.

With the Central Bank looking to increase financial inclusion from 58percent to 75percent over the next two years, Adoma Peprah, Visa’s first Country Manager, believes that the payment firm has a crucial role to play and its partnerships with fintechs and MFIs, not just banks, hold the key to achieving the required targets.

“We at Visa are trying to provide digital solutions relevant to the Ghanaian system to drive financial inclusion. We need to be here to understand the nuances of the market to develop the tools and technologies to achieve that. It is all good and well for people to be in San Francisco and develop solutions but those solutions might not work here,” she told the B&FT in an interview.

She stressed that it is not just the banks and telecom companies that can help achieve financial inclusion because fintechs and MFIs are increasingly becoming crucial in driving financial inclusion.

“We are exploring ways to work with these fintechs and MFIs to drive financial inclusion. With Visa, we have previously just dealt with the big established banks and it is not enough if we want to get everyone financial included. If you go to the rural areas, there are no big banks there and it is these MFIs and rural banks that are present.

Also, in the market places, the susu collector and credit unions are the ones these people know. We must find ways to work with these MFIs to drive financial literacy and help the digitise their monies at the same time,” Ms. Peprah added.

Fintech Fastrack Programme

Touching further on fintechs, Ms. Peprah noted that the growth of fintechs and their impact on payment has led Visa to introduce the Fintech Fastrack Programme which supports fintechs that have great ideas to support the financial ecosystem but cannot scale without technical and or financial support.

“Under our fastrack programme, if you are able to demonstrate that you can tackle a payment challenge that will benefit the whole ecosystem, we can provide you with access to our platform, VisaNet, and possibly back you with some finances.

We have always been working with banks but we know that we cannot work with only banks but include others such as fintechs and other players. Through our Fintech Fastrack Programme, we can quickly onboard you as a Visa partner instead of the long cumbersome process and also give you access to our platform,” she pointed out.

Accra office and cashless agenda

Though Visa has been operating in the country for more than a decade through its partnerships with banks, the business has always been directed from Nigeria but with Adoma Peprah’s arrival in the country, Visa believes it is here to help make Ghana, if not cashless, at least cash-lite.

“The Ghanaian economy is growing and payment is becoming sophisticated in the country so we needed a dedicated team here. Also, when it comes to Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE), which is really what money is used for, on the continent there is a lot of cash.

We find that we need to mop up the cash using digital means and Ghana is a huge market for us and our focus here is to find out how we can work with the government and industry to take Ghana cash-lite and then cashless,” she said.

With Visa on Mobile, a QR code based solution, launched in November last year, Visa is looking to scale up and drive a cashless agenda. “It is an easy way for you to pay for goods and services just by scanning your mobile on a QR code.”

As it settles to drive a financial inclusion agenda, Visa is also looking at increasing financial literacy so that consumers of these products and services know exactly what they are using. “We have to increase the level of financial literacy among Ghanaians. Already, some banks have approached us and we are working to make people get educated on finance and financial instruments,” she added.

Enhanced mobile money

On mobile money, she touted Visa’s security features that can be an add on to mobile money to make the platform more secure.  “Our security is something we pride ourselves in. The multilayer of security we have developed offers us an opportunity to venture into mobile money to make sure transactions are secure.”

Visa, she added, has introduced a new security feature that stops transaction from going through when any form of malware is detected on a PoS device. “We are able to catch it and prevent any card transaction from going through. We increasingly work with our merchants and customers to make sure everyone is secure. We have a data centre dedicated to security.”

With Parliament passing the Payment Systems and Services Bill into law a couple of weeks ago, it can only be said that exciting times are ahead and Visa’s arrival in Ghana with an office couldn’t be more timely.

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