Visa opens first innovation hub in Africa to fuel product development

Visa opens first innovation hub in Africa to fuel product development

Visa, the global digital payments giant, has reportedly launched a new innovation studio in Kenya. The firm already has five innovation hubs spread throughout the world, with locations in Dubai, San Francisco, London, Singapore, and Miami. The new Kenya studio would be the company’s sixth one, and the first one in Africa.

According to reports, the studio would be bringing developers, internal and external clients of Visa, and other partners together to co-develop various payment as well as commerce solutions.  

Aida Diarra, Sr. VP and Head of Visa in Sub-Saharan Africa, stated that the number of tech-savvy users is rising in the fast-growing region of Sub-Saharan Africa. As the company continues to expand the adoption of digital payments within the region, it aspires to deepen its collaboration with clients and partners towards developing solutions that are unique to Africa’s needs.

Diarra added that as a brand that is built on technology, the company has fueled major tech advancements that have made e-payments what they are today. The company is confident that the new studio would continue that legacy and consolidate the region’s leading position in creating unique solutions that address its most pressing challenges.

Previously, Visa had utilized its existing innovation hubs to develop products specifically designed for the overall African market. This included a collaboration with Nigerian Fintech firm, Paga, to build new merchant acceptance solutions that involve QR codes as well as NFC technology.

A recent collaboration with Kenya’s mobile network operator, Safaricom, has also been fostered through the payments company’s other innovation studios. This tie-up effectively allowed more than 150,000 M-Pesa (mobile money) merchants of the telecommunication service provider to accept payments made using Visa cards.

To develop novel products through partnerships and stay globally competitive, both multinational and local corporations, as well as governments in the region, are taking cue from enterprises such as Visa and launching such innovation centers of their own.

Other organizations such as Cisco and Philips also have similar labs in Kenya, with the nation’s government working towards establishing a tech city, named Konza City, to foster innovation across the country.

Recently, several innovation hubs have also sprung up in Africa’s start-up capital, Nigeria, primarily situated around the city of Lagos, which is considered a commercial and cultural center of the nation. Lagos is also home to some of the greats of the continent, including e-commerce platform Jumia, technology-jobs network Andela, and payments firm Flutterwave.

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