With nearly 40 million active mobile phone subscriptions in Kenya and Ksh. 515.9 billion in person-to-person money transfers within the last quarter of 2016, mobile money payments have become an integral part of Kenyans’ lives.

However, Kenyans spend billions on transaction fees for mobile money transfers every year because they had no option until mVisa. Visa has partnered with banks in Kenya to allow consumers to send money to each other domestically without paying transaction fees using mVisa. The partnership offers free person-to-person (P2P) transactions to users whose banks have enabled mVisa on their mobile banking applications and/or have acquired merchants to be able to accept mVisa.

According to Andrew Torre, Group Country Manager for Visa Sub-Saharan Africa, “There is a strong sense of community here with people often sending funds to family, friends and even strangers in times of need, celebration or crisis. We hope to enhance this by eliminating barriers such as transaction costs, while giving customers a convenient, secure and affordable experience. We are excited to continue to build momentum around mVisa to digitize payments with a scalable and interoperable solution that is not limited by the mobile network, bank, or type of handset used.”

These deal will see consumers use mVisa to send money directly from their bank to a recipient’s bank account regardless of whether they use a smart phone or feature phone. Transactions are processed via Visa’s global network, VisaNet, applying the scale, security and reliability of Visa to mobile payments in emerging markets. This will also dent the recently launched PesaLink.

The banks already offering mVisa include Barclays Bank, Cooperative Bank, Ecobank, Family Bank, KCB Bank, National Bank of Kenya, NIC Bank, Prime Bank, and Standard Chartered Bank while Diamond Trust Bank and Stanbic are in the process.

Merchants accepting mVisa include Nakumatt, KenolKobil, IMAX Theaters, EatOut, Zucchini, Little Cab, Kenya Airways, and Bata. mVisa has also partnered with hundreds of merchants using Kopo Kopo, Direct Pay Online and Jambo Pay.

During the launch Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Technology, Mr. Joseph Mucheru said,  mVisa is a trailblazer; the mobile First approach is ideal for our ecosystem where mobile penetration is at a staggering 88%. mVisa customers will be able to make card-less purchases or send & receive money using their mobile phones. “The burden of carrying several cards and other instruments is no more, customers will cherish the convenience and freedom of this secure electronic transactions.” 

The mVisa implementation in Kenya benefited from the Visa Developer Platform, which allowed all partner banks the ability to integrate the mVisa APIs directly into their mobile banking apps. While rolling out a new solution with a bank typically can take a very long time from development to implementation and testing, utilizing the Visa Developer Platform interface reduced the time taken significantly. This helped to speed up the number of banks who have been able to roll out the mVisa solution in Kenya.

mVisa is now live in Kenya, India, Rwanda and Egypt with plans to launch in Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Vietnam underway.

Why is mVisa not man enough?

  1. Masses still believe this is not for them but for expats, rich people and holders of sophisticated credit cards and not their normal debit and credit cards.
  2. M-PESA has put out a sustained campaign over the decade to show the simplicity of its service. mVisa will need to double on that starting with people online then offline then those upcountry and the informal sector.
  3. M-PESA comes with sister services such as M-Shwari which mVisa won’t promise anytime soon.