Visa launches Sub-Saharan innovation hub in Kenya to drive product development

KENYA – Global digital payments company Visa has opened its first African Innovation Studio in Kenya, its first in Africa and sixth globally, after posts in Dubai, London, Miami, San Francisco and Singapore.

The new centre has been designed to support Visa partners in the region with access to develop solutions that strengthen their capabilities to develop fintech products.

It will also help foster collaborations between fintechs and other key players in the financial and payments ecosystem in Sub-Saharan Africa.

This facility will serve the sub-Saharan Africa region and joins a network of innovation centers operated by Visa since 2016.

Visa says the new African Innovation Studio supports its commitment to promoting innovation and creating opportunities for clients and fintech partners to co-create market-relevant payment and commerce solutions throughout the region.

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.

“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.”

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 to overcome some of their biggest business challenges while uncovering new commercial avenues of opportunity

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.

Organizations such as Cisco and Philips also run similar labs in Nairobi, while the Kenyan government is building a technology city, Konza City, to drive innovation in the country.

Meanwhile, numerous innovation hubs have opened in Africa’s startup capital, Nigeria, with concentration around Lagos, the country’s cultural and commercial center, and home to the continent’s greats like tech-jobs network Andela, payments company Flutterwave and e-commerce platform Jumia.

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