Global digital payments technology firm Visa has partnered with Airtel in Kenya and a local SME bank Chase Bank to launch an Airtel Money VISA card which is expected to allow Airtel money users to withdraw money from their Airtel Money accounts from over two million Visa and Kenswitch ATMs worldwide, shop and pay for goods and services using Airtel Money at tens of millions of Visa accepted merchants worldwide.
Only available to Airtel customers, the Airtel Money VISA Card can easily be obtained at Airtel Xpress Plus shops or Chase Bank Branches in Kenya or the subscribers can simply apply for the card by using the short code *222*3#.
According to Visa’s Head of Emerging Products & Innovation for Africa, Dougie Henderson said: “This strategic partnership with Airtel and Chase Bank brings the benefits of electronic payments to the under banked in Kenya by being innovative in mobile money services.
“As a global payments technology company, we see one of the most valuable contributions we can make as helping to bring more people into the formal financial system. We do so by creating pathways to financial inclusion for the financially underserved through our products, services, technology, and payments expertise and our strategic partnerships,” concluded Henderson.
The partnership will also increase accessibility of Airtel Money to our customers throughout Kenya. Airtel ventured into the local mobile commerce business three years ago and also provides e-commerce solutions including online payments, online banking, utility bill payments for electricity, DSTV, and water. Airtel Money currently has a vast dealer network of more than 15,000 active agents which include banks, bank agents, supermarket chains and Posta outlets.
Airtel Kenya Managing Director Shivan Bhargava said, “We are committed to nurturing strategic partnerships that provide innovative solutions that meet the ever changing needs of our customers. Through these partnerships, Airtel will deliver relevant and innovative mobile solutions to help customers overcome their daily challenges.”
Chase bank, which was voted the Best SME Bank 2013 from Global Financial Markets Awards & Think Business Kenya, will be linked to Airtel Money to enable customers to access over 10,000 Visa merchants and more than 5,000 Visa and Kenswitch accepted ATMs where they will either be able to make purchases or withdraw cash via Airtel Money.
Speaking at the event, Chase Bank Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Paul Njaga, said: “We understand that our customers have busy lifestyles so we focus on quick turnaround solutions that respond to their ever-changing needs; they must address convenience, flexibility, real-time and above all offer value for money. We are pleased to partner with Airtel and Visa to offer an innovative and value proposition card to our customers. We are taking a strategic relationship with Airtel and Visa where we can offer Airtel subscribers convenience and flexibility.”
This partnership comes days after MasterCard and Equity Bank of Kenya agreed to issue five million MasterCard-branded debit and prepaid cards in Kenya as a safe and secure way to pay, versus cash and other forms of payment. The two also agreed to introduce MasterCard® PayPass™ awith point of sale terminals across the region. PayPass is present in 48 countries and accepted at nearly 550,000 merchant locations.
According to Associated Press, Visa and MasterCard are set to separately launch Internet-based technologies to make it easier for shoppers to buy things at retail stores without pulling out a credit card. The new systems will give merchants and banks more options for incorporating so-called contact-less payment systems into their mobile apps. The customer uses the app to make purchases by tapping the phone to a store’s card reader. The two firms are targeting both targeting phones with NFC capabilities.
In Kenya, VISA is working on launching a travel payments card similar to Google and Equity Bank’s NFC-powered BebaPay.