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December 11, 2019

Visa partners with MFS Africa to extend its reach into Africa’s mobile money market

By Mohamed Dabo

Visa has reached a partnership agreement with MFS Africa, a Port Louis, Mauritius-based company that provides mobile phone services across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The deal is the latest of several arranged in recent years by the American card issuer to get a slice of Africa’s highly lucrative mobile money market.

The partnership will help bridge the gap between the rapidly growing mobile money ecosystem in Africa and the world of online digital payments, significantly expanding Visa’s reach and its ability to open up ecommerce to the region.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest and fastest-growing mobile money market in the world. The region is currently responsible for 45.6% of mobile money transaction, an estimated $26.8bn in 2018.

MFS Africa is the largest digital payments hub in Africa, with over 180 million mobile wallets connected. The company partners with mobile money services, money transfer companies, banks, and merchants to power affordable, inclusive channels for remittances, financial services, and payments.

More speed and convenience for users

Under the agreement, MFS Africa will integrate Visa’s real-time push payment solution Visa Direct. This will allow users of MFS Africa platform to access a fast, convenient and secure way to send and receive money and remittances directly from and into their mobile money wallets via eligible card credentials.

“Africa is adopting a mobile-led, digital payments ecosystem and with Visa looking to accelerate the distribution of payment credentials and expand the acceptance space for digital payments, this partnership is an important one,” said Jack Forestell, Executive Vice President, Chief Product Officer, Visa. “MFS Africa will help us enable digital payment use cases at scale through their aggregation model.”

MFS Africa connects 120 million mobile wallets making it the largest network in Sub-Saharan Africa through partnerships Airtel, Econet, MTN, Orange, Tigo and Vodafone.

“In the past few years, we have been relentlessly focused on creating new digital pathways between mobile money users in Africa. Having reached significant scale, we are now turning our focus to connecting our network to the wider world, to unleash the wealth of opportunity that trade with Africa presents to the global economy,” said Dare Okoudjou, founder and CEO of MFS Africa.

An invaluable partner in a profitable market

Okoudjou described Visa as an invaluable partner to support his company’s next stage of expansion. “We have found in Visa an invaluable partner to support us in the next stage of our expansion. The reach of the Visa network is unparalleled, and we look forward to working with Visa to realise our vision of a world in which no one is limited in what they can achieve when it comes to payments.”

According to the World Bank, remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa are set to increase by over 5.6%, between 2019 and 2020, reaching $51bn. However, the region remains the most expensive in the world to send money to, with an average cost of 9.3%–making it also the most profitable market.

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