Visa Inc is ready to introduce futuristic shopping and payment experience in Sub-Saharan Africa

Visa Inc

Last week we told you about the new Innovation Studio that Visa Inc had launched in Kenya for Sub-Saharan Africa, but what we didn’t do was tell you just what this studio is poised to do for the SSA market, and that’s what I want to do right now. To understand the capabilities of the newly launched studio, I need you to imagine five scenarios:

Scenario 1 – The Digital Home

You are probably an introvert. As a result, you have gifted yourself with a big screen that you have installed in your living room (or bedroom), bought yourself a Metaverse subscription (that digital world that Facebook is creating to ensure you never have to get out of your house) powered by a powerful gaming PC and a virtual reality gear, and you have also fitted a few portrait screens to serve as your frame for storing digital goods. You take a tour of the metaverse (or any other virtual reality world) and notice a number of digital goods you’d like to purchase. As you shop around for digital goods that may include games, artworks, avatars, movies, music, and tourism destinations, you remember that you also need to make purchases for physical goods. The physical goods could be items such as clothing, glasses, phones, or even your very basic food. As you do your virtual window shopping, it dawns on you that for you to actually make the desired purchases you’d have to make payment, but your physical cash means nothing in the digital world. Worse still, that digital world is yet to recognise your physical card, bank, or mobile money. That’s what takes us to scenario 2.

Scenario 2: The virtual currencies

You are a member of a virtual world, metaverse or something else. You’d like to constantly engage in buying and selling both digital and physical products, but as I have already mentioned, the digital world is yet to recognise the payment method you are accustomed to. Now imagine if there was a globally accepted wallet (super wallet) that recognised all forms of payments. A super wallet that could be charged with cash, your mobile money, your bank, or your physical card. Imagine that this wallet went ahead to issue you with a virtual card that you could use just like any other ordinary bank or Visa card. That through it you could transact in both fiat digital currencies or any of the available cryptocurrencies. This super wallet already exists. It is a creation of Visa Inc and is already in use in several markets such as Dubai and elsewhere, and only awaiting deployment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Let’s call it a super app.

Once available in this market, the super app by Visa Inc will allow the user to download it, create an identity (or an account), authenticate that account with a government-issued identification document e.g. National ID or Passport, then be able to link the super app with a mobile money provider, a bank, or even in some instances charge it using cash.

With the super app, the user of the digital world be it from home, mall, public transport or anywhere else will be able to make payments through tap to pay, scan to pay, or just through the traditional check-out and submit payment buttons. With the super app, once loaded or if it has sufficient credit, the user will be able to make any purchases from any partner virtual worlds, shopping malls, stalls in small markets, or even in PSVs.

Scenario 3 – Public Transport

Kenyans especially those in Nairobi are already getting used to paying their fare through mobile money, particularly through MPESA. The procedure however is still cumbersome. For one to make payment, typically you have to access your MPESA menu either through SIM toolkit, Safaricom App or MPESA App, get to send money, then hand your phone to the conductor who will input the relevant number, then hand over the phone back to you for to input the fare, then your PIN, then send. It’s a process that typically delays the time it takes the conductor to collect money from other passengers.

Imagine if the PSVs were fitted with NFC or QR scanners powered by Visa Inc at the door – and that NFC system and the QR scanners were smart enough to already know the fare to deduct from every passenger. That all you needed to do is to tap the NFC chip or scan the QR code and voila, your payment is made. Imagine if this payment process was part of the super app I already talked about – that a mobile payment system like MPESA was already part of the super app.

Scenario 4 – Driving to the mall

You and your super-app are driving towards a certain futuristic mall. As you drive, you realise your car is low in fuel, but you estimate that the remaining fuel will take you all the way to the mall. On your way to the mall, you decide to book for fueling service from a fuel marketer who is already part of the super app. You arrive at the mall, park your car, leave the fuel tank open, and get into the mall to shop.

Inside the mall, a merchant that has served you before notices your proximity. She thus decides to alert you of a few offers she has, and since you are a regular customer, she decides to throw some huge discounts your way. You peruse through the offers and decide to buy a few items – even before you reach her store. Then after a few errands here and there, you go to her drop off point from where you pick your items, payment already deducted from your super app, put those items in a basket, and then head out to your car. As you expected, your car is already fueled up to your specification, and off you drive.

Scenario 5 – Store merchants

You decide to operate a merchandising business that deals with imported items from China or Europe or Dubai. Your friend introduces you to the super app and gives you the detailed benefits you’ll be receiving, the benefits that include your ability to pay your dealers in any currency including crypto, ability to manage your inventory, sales and purchases, all from within the app, and the ability for your bank to extend to you a line of credit based on the transactions that you have kept within the app. Better still, you will be able to receive payments from anyone – be it cash, mobile money, bank transfer or even super app to super app transfers. You even realise you can pay your employees their salaries from within the app and in the process you automatically create for them their own super app accounts.

That’s where Visa Innovation Studios comes in

The five scenarios described above already exist, at least in regions such as Europe, Dubai and elsewhere. Visa Inc recently set up an innovation studio right in the heart of Nairobi meant to help deploy the above-mentioned scenarios in the Sub-Saharan region. They already have the capacity to work with local stakeholders (the government, banks, fintech companies, merchants, mobile network operators, anyone interested) in order for the stakeholders to incorporate holistic or tailor-made solutions that would ensure that the described scenarios and more become a reality in the Sub-Saharan African market.


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