Digital payments company Visa and the pan-African fintech company MFS Africa have announced a partnership that, they say, will help bridge the gap between the rapidly growing mobile money ecosystem in Africa and the world of online digital payments.
Mobile money wallets are already prevalent across Africa, but without a virtual or physical network credential associated with them, many international online services are unavailable to users. To help solve this problem, MFS Africa – Africa’s largest digital payments hub, connecting through one API more than 180 million mobile wallets on the continent – will distribute Visa payment credentials across multiple markets in Africa.
This will allow mobile money users connected to the MFS Africa platform to generate an instant Visa virtual card with a 16-digit number and link it to their mobile money accounts to use for remittances and ecommerce transactions.
MFS Africa will also integrate Visa’s real-time push payments solution Visa Direct to provide mobile money users on the MFS Africa platform a fast, convenient and secure way to send and receive money and remittances directly from or into their mobile money wallets via eligible card credentials.
According to the World Bank, remittances to sub-Saharan Africa are set to increase by over 5.6 percent between 2019 and 2020, reaching $51 billion. However, the region is still the most expensive in the world to send money to.
As the UK’s Financial Times newspaper points out, MFS Africa already handles tens of thousands of intra-African cross-border transactions between different phone networks, and when the 54-nation African Continental Free Trade Area becomes a reality in 2020, that will be even more important. However, the MFS partnership with Visa could enable users to extend their transactions outside Africa – and, importantly, bring down the price of remittances.