Visa now seems to believe that mobile banking is going to become increasingly important for banking the unbanked in developing markets.
The credit card giant has launched a new managed service that it says will make it easy and cost-efficient for financial institutions and mobile operators to offer mobile financial services to consumers.
Mobile Network Operators, banks and micro-lending institutions will be able to launch their own mobile money services on top of the Visa platform.
Visa will host and fully manage all aspects of a mobile money program on behalf of the provider, from user interface design to consumer enrollment, transactions processing, authorization, clearing and settlement.
The new service can enable domestic-only or globally interoperable mobile money services.
The new platform, which is being hosted in Visa managed data centers, is built on Fundamo's technology, the mobile money technology acquired by Visa in 2011. Visa claims the service is the “world’s first bank-grade managed service for mobile money”.
Unbanked consumers in India and Rwanda are the first to use the service. Aircel mobile subscribers in India and customers of Bank of Kigali and Urwego Opportunity Bank in Rwanda now have access to a financial account that is linked to their mobile phone number. From cash-in and -out transactions at agent locations, to paying bills, sending money to relatives, topping-up air time and buying train tickets.