Global digital payments giant Visa has opened an innovation studio in Kenya, the first in Africa, to expand its reach in the region.
The studio will bring together developers, Visa’s internal and external clients, and other partners to co-create payment and commerce solutions.
Opening of the hub in Kenya is a strategy to capture market as consumers switch to new payment platforms and digital wallets that could bypass the card networks or slow their revenue growth.
Last year, Visa partnered with Kenya’s largest telco Safaricom to allow the firm’s 150,000 mobile money (M-Pesa) merchants to accept card payments.
The Nairobi studio is the first in Africa and sixth globally, after posts in Dubai, London, Miami, San Francisco and Singapore.
Senior vice president and head of Visa in Sub-Saharan Africa, Aida Diarra, said the studio will assist in increasing Visa market in the region by issuing digital and physical Visa to its clients.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is a fast-growing region with a tech-savvy population and as we continue to grow digital payments adoption in the region, our aspiration is to deepen our collaboration with clients and partners in developing solutions that are designed around the unique needs of Africa,” said Diarra.
“As a brand built on technology, Visa has driven the major technology advancements that make electronic payments what they are today. We are confident that the innovation studio will continue that legacy and cement Sub-Saharan Africa’s position as a leader in creating out-of-the-box solutions to deal with our most pressing challenges as a region.”
Visa has previously used its existing innovation hubs to design products for the African market, including a collaboration with Nigerian Fintech Paga to develop new merchant acceptance solutions involving QR codes and NFC technology.
Across Africa, both local and multinational corporations, as well as governments, are taking cue to launch such innovation centres as a means to developing new products through collaborations and to remain globally competitive.
Organisations such as Cisco and Philips also run similar labs in Nairobi, while the Kenyan government is building a technology city, Konza City, to drive innovation in the country.
Meanwhile, numerous innovation hubs have opened up in Africa’s start-up capital, Nigeria, with concentration around Lagos, the country’s cultural and commercial centre. Nigeria is home to the continent’s greats like tech-jobs network Andela, payments company Flutterwave and e-commerce platform Jumia.
By ANTHONY KITIMO (The East African)