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Faith Nyasuguta 

Visa, a global digital payments giant, has opened an innovation studio in Kenya, the first in Africa, to expand its reach in the continent.

The studio is set to bring together developers, Visa’s internal and external clients, and other partners to co-create payment and commerce solutions.

Launching the hub in Kenya is a strategy meant to capture market as consumers switch to new payment platforms and digital wallets that could bypass the card networks or slow their revenue growth.

In 2021, Visa partnered with Kenya’s largest telco Safaricom to allow the firm’s 150,000 mobile money (M-Pesa) merchants to accept card payments.

In the whole of Africa, the Nairobi studio is the first and is sixth globally, after posts in Dubai, London, Miami, San Francisco and Singapore.

According to Senior vice president and head of Visa in Sub-Saharan Africa, Aida Diarra, the studio will assist in boosting Visa market in the region by giving out digital and physical Visa to its clients.

Akshay Chopra, Visa’s Vice President and Head of Innovation for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) with Dr Patrick Njoroge, Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya at the newly opened Visa Innovation Studio in Nairobi on April 6, 2022 /The Standard, Kenya/

“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.”

Previously, Visa has 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.

In Africa, both local and multinational corporations, as well as governments, are taking cue to commission such innovation centers as a means to developing new products through collaborations and to remain globally competitive.

Organizations including 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.

At the same time, 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.

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Faith Nyasuguta

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