25 November 2011
Pan-African mobile operator MTN has teamed up with financial services group Visa to offer its Mobile Money customers a prepaid account that can be accessed through mobile devices, giving consumers in developing countries a secure, reliable, globally interoperable electronic payment account.
As part of the launch, the new product will initially be available to customers in Nigeria and Uganda. The product was developed by a South African company called Fundamo, which was acquired by Visa in June this year for $110-million.
From international remittances to e-commerce transactions, Visa’s new product will offer consumers a new payment account that enhances the payment functionality of their existing mobile money service.
In markets with Visa acceptance locations, consumers may also have the option to receive a Visa prepaid companion card that can be used at ATMs and merchants where Visa is accepted.
Regardless of transaction size or where consumers make purchases, Visa and the account issuer will be able to authenticate the account holder at the point of transaction by requesting a PIN or password.
Reliable electronic payments
“Reaching consumers who have previously lacked access to formal financial services with secure and reliable electronic payments is finally a reality,” Visa head of products Jim McCarthy said in a statement this week.
“Mobile technology has become the single most important driver of financial inclusion that is enabling financial institutions, mobile network operators and Visa to connect unbanked consumers to each other and the global economy.”
MTN chief commercial officer Christian de Faria said the launch of the new product represented a “crucial milestone” in the company’s effort to bring value-added services to its mobile phone users.
“And as the appetite for mobile technology grows, MTN is excited to be at the forefront of providing millions of our customers with such important product innovations,” he said.
As of the end of September, MTN had some 5.7-million registered mobile money customers in 12 countries.
Connecting existing services
In the last ten years, 100-million people have been newly banked through mobile services that offer consumers basic financial services that are limited in geographic reach.
Visa’s acquisition of Fundamo, a leading mobile money platform in developing countries, and its integration into Visa, has created a mobile payment platform that can connect existing mobile money services via the VisaNet global payment network.
The result is a product that allows financial service providers and mobile network operators to offer consumers a payment account that provides Visa’s high standards of security, reliability and global interoperability.
Developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America are among the first target markets for the mobile-based prepaid product.
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