Visa plans $1B investment in Africa

Amid a growth in digital payments on the continent of Africa, global payments firm Visa says it would invest $1 billion by 2027 to increase its efforts there.

A sub-event of the larger U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, where U.S. President Joe Biden gathered heads of state and senior government officials from Africa to discuss a variety of topics ranging from food security to climate change, Visa CEO Al Kelly made this commitment on Wednesday.

“Visa has been investing in Africa for several decades to grow a truly local business, and today our commitment to the continent remains as firm and unwavering as ever,” said the Visa CEO in a statement.

“Every day, Visa supports digital commerce and money movement in every country across the continent, and Africa remains central to Visa’s long-term growth plans.”

According to the announcement, the pledge will help Visa expand its operations in Africa and strengthen its partnerships with key stakeholders like governments, financial institutions, mobile network carriers, fintech companies, and retailers.

There are now more than 500 million underbanked or unbanked individuals in Africa, less than 50% of adult consumers on the continent have made or received digital payments, and more than 40 million businesses do not accept digital payments. The payment giant believes that this new investment, spread over five years, will open up more opportunities to increase financial inclusion on the continent. This comes after the payment giant spent several years investing through various partnerships and contributing significantly to the current digital payments boom in Africa.

“Africa is experiencing an unprecedented digital acceleration, with a growing number of consumers, merchants and businesses realising the benefits of secure and convenient digital payments to fuel commerce and money movement,” said Aida Diarra, the senior vice president of Visa Sub-Saharan Africa.

Visa has increased its investment in Africa over the past year through new offices, fresh ideas and solutions, and initiatives that are promoting financial inclusion. The investment pledge underlines its commitment to Africa over the long term as well as the initiatives it will take to develop the financial ecosystem.

The number of Visa offices on the continent has increased to 10, and the company recently started local operations in Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan as part of its commitment to seeing the continued growth of digital payments (including the enormous opportunity in crypto payments) in Africa. Visa, which has invested several million dollars in African payment businesses like Interswitch, Flutterwave, JUMO, and Paystack, said that these offices support payments in 54 countries.

Other noteworthy strategic investments made by the company to advance its expansion into Africa include the opening of an innovation studio in Nairobi this April, the introduction of more modern payment methods like Tap to Phone, the integration of Visa Direct, its global money transfer network, into African solutions, and the management of the Visa Everywhere Initiative programme, where several African startups have displayed their payment innovations.

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