Visa, banks launch mVisa, Kenya’s first interoperable mobile payments service

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Jabu Basopo - Visa General Manager East and Southern Africa

Visa has partnered with Co-Operative Bank, Family Bank, KCB and NIC Bank to launch mVisa, a new mobile payment service that will accelerate digital commerce in Kenya and across Africa.

With mVisa, users can pay for goods at stores or send money to individuals at anytime by scanning a QR code on a smart phone or by entering a merchant number into a feature phone.  The payment goes straight from the consumer’s bank account into the merchant’s account and provides real-time notification to both parties.

The QR code, which provides the customers with the merchant’s bank details, can be in the form of a static printout (either on the store counter or on a printed bill) or a dynamic display generated on the merchant’s mobile device. This allows merchants of all sizes to accept electronic payments without the need to obtain and run traditional point-of-sale devices.

The payment is initiated by the consumer, providing them with complete control over the transaction.

According to Andrew Torre, Group Country Manager for Visa in Sub-Sahara Africa, “Kenyans already understand the benefits of mobile payments, and mVisa offers them a better way to pay and be paid, with a service which is not limited by the mobile network they have or the handset they use.  The service also brings the advantages of Visa’s global network – security, reliability and global acceptance – and allows consumers to make payments both domestically and internationally.”

mVisa also provides significant benefits to merchants by allowing them to receive real-time payment notifications that the payment has been made to their bank account without having to invest in costly point-of-sale hardware.

mVisa works simply. Using their bank’s mobile application on their smart phone or via USSD on their feature phone, customers activate mVisa then send money to anyone or pay for purchases in any retailer including supermarkets, fuel stations and ecommerce by simply transferring funds from their account to the merchant’s account via a QR or USSD code.

Merchants and billers are instantly notified via SMS text message when a payment has been received. The payments are received directly into their bank accounts allowing them to better manage their business. Consumers can also use mVisa agents for domestic remittances as well as to access their cash if there is no ATM machine nearby.

mVisa allows informal traders to accept electronic payments in a cost-effective way, without the need for point-of-sale terminals.  Merchants are able to receive payments directly into their bank account within minutes of a consumer making a payment.  Unlike other mobile payment solutions, mVisa uses Visa’s global transaction dispute processes to handle refunds and chargebacks.

mVisa is available with software developer kits (SDKs) and access to Visa APIs, allowing banks and programmers to build additional solutions to help address local payment needs.