Visa Innovation Studio: A Hub for Co-creating Future Payment Solutions in Africa
Visa, the global leader in digital payments, recently launched its first dedicated innovation site in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Visa Innovation Studio, in Nairobi, Kenya. The studio has been established to serve as a hub for co-creating and testing new payment and commerce solutions with clients and partners across the region.
The Visa Innovation Studio is part of a network of innovation centers that Visa operates since 2016 in cities such as Dubai, San Francisco and Singapore. These centers have been instrumental in developing new business ideas and platforms that leverage emerging technologies such as blockchain, IoT, VR and biometrics.
The Visa Innovation Studio in Nairobi focuses on addressing the specific needs and opportunities of the African market, where digital payments are rapidly growing and evolving. According to Aida Diarra, Senior Vice President and Head of Sub-Saharan Africa at Visa, “Sub-Saharan Africa is home to a thriving community of start-ups, incubators and accelerators. The Innovation Studio in Nairobi is a realization of our vision to be an engine of commerce and to provide individuals, businesses and economies access to the financial services they need to thrive”.
One of the key features of the Visa Innovation Studio is the ability to collaborate with local players and co-create solutions that are relevant and scalable for the region. Visa has a team of technical and design experts that work closely with customers to discover their needs, design the required solutions, test the solutions then deploy them.
Some of the solutions that have been co-created or are being developed at the Visa Innovation Studio include:
Visa virtual/digital card: This is a digital card that allows users to shop online using tap to pay, scan to pay, face to pay or even transfer cash. Users can also buy NFTs via the Visa virtual card as they live in the virtual world.
Loop: This is a partnership between Visa and NCBA Bank that enables users to make payments through any platform. Loop aggregates all merchants and offers discounts to shoppers. Loop also integrates all payment cards into one single Loop card that is Visa powered. Through Loop cards, shoppers have access to over 60 million merchants globally. Users can also apply for up to Kshs. 3 million loan that gets approved within 5 minutes.
Visa transport solution: This is a solution that aims to ease the payment in the transport sector. For example, instead of handing over the phone to the conductor to enter his phone number for payment via MPESA, users can just scan a QR code and pay. Little, the taxi hailing company, will be launching this solution in the coming weeks. Payments on Little will then be as simple as tap and pay.
KCB tap to pay: This is a partnership between Visa and KCB Bank that makes it simple to make payments to partner merchants. Users can just tap their phone or smart watch to the merchant’s POS.
Absa tap to phone: This is a partnership between Visa and Absa Bank that turns smartphones into POS machines. Small merchants can use their smartphones to accept payments using tap to pay technology. They can also secure loans based on their transactions on the Visa platform.
These are just some examples of how Visa is innovating with its partners in Kenya and across Africa. The Visa Innovation Studio is expected to incubate more solutions that will enhance the payment experience for consumers, merchants and businesses in the region. Visa also offers points when using their superapp, which means that users can redeem their points from any of the banks that are on Visa platform. Merchants are also giving shoppers who use Visa platform special discounts.
The Visa Innovation Studio in Nairobi is a testament to Visa’s commitment to promoting innovation and creating opportunities for clients and fintech partners in Africa. By leveraging its global expertise and local insights, Visa aims to empower individuals, businesses and economies with access to the financial services they need to thrive.