Just days after Microsoft launched its Garage innovation hub in Nairobi, Visa followed suit with a new Innovation Studio, its first dedicated innovation site in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to serve the sub-Saharan Africa region.
The hub joins a network of innovation centers operated by Visa since 2016, in cities including Dubai, Singapore and San Francisco and will promote innovation and create opportunities for Visa’s clients and fintech partners to co-create market-relevant payment and commerce solutions in Africa. The Nairobi-hub will replicate the success of Visa’s flagship innovation center, One Market in San Francisco and provide Visa’s partners with access to tools that strengthen their capabilities in developing new solutions.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is a fast-growing region with a tech-savvy population. 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 Aida Diarra, Senior Vice President & Head of Visa in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa have been leading the way in introducing new methods of paying, and being paid, by harnessing innovative technologies. Ideas to expand the growth of emerging payment areas such as Tap to Phone and Pay on Delivery will be explored at the Innovation Studio alongside the ongoing development of cutting-edge smarter payment solutions that leverage blockchain, Internet of Things, Virtual Reality and biometrics.
The studio will help Visa clients and partners from across the continent extend their service offerings. Through a human-centred approach, the studio’s immersive environment will also provide clients and partners with tools overcome some of their biggest business challenges while uncovering new commercial avenues of opportunity. Visa is not new to Africa’s innovation ecosystem as through its Visa Everywhere Initiative has supported a number of startups in Africa.
Visa’s Innovation Centers have been instrumental in the conceptualization and implementation of new business ideas and platforms around the globe. Several Sub-Saharan Africa companies have already leveraged Visa’s innovation centre capabilities, these include Paga ; who collaborated with Visa to co-create a platform that offers tools to small businesses; and Safaricom on a solution to enable 24 million M-PESA users to transact at Visa merchant locations, and 150,000 M-PESA merchants to accept Visa card payments.
The studio was officially opened by the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, Dr. Patrick Njoroge, at an event attended by leading banks, financial technology companies and innovation specialists from across Sub-Saharan Africa.
“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,” concluded Diarra.