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PERSPECTIVES ON DIGITAL CURRENCY

Oct 28, 2013

Partnerships

Cherie Blair on New Mobile Financial Services Initiative for Women in Nigeria

 

This week I’m speaking at the Financial Inclusion 2020 Summit, an event that is promoting a global campaign to bring ordinary financial services – banking, credit cards, pensions, etc – to more than 2 billion people around the world who are currently excluded from these everyday services.

It’s an issue that is particularly important to me and my Foundation for Women, which promotes women entrepreneurs in the less developed parts of the world, and through which I’ve learned how hard it is for women to run a business without banking facilities. More than that, everyone needs financial services to manage their day-to-day lives and prepare for a better future. But very few in middle-income and especially low-income countries enjoy the access to quality services from formal financial service providers that many of us take for granted.

In wealthier countries, nearly 90% of the population have basic bank accounts. Most middle-class people are supported at every turn by financial services – such as credit cards for everyday purchases, mortgages to buy a home, quick and easy payment services, insurance or pensions. But in low and middle-income countries, the story is different.

More than 2.5 billion people lack access to quality financial services and at least half of that number will include women. If we want to make an impact on financial inclusion, that effort has to include women. Recent research findings from my own foundation, Visa, BFA and GSMA show that not only are women missing out on access to mobile financial services, they are also missing out on the retail opportunities related to these services.

In partnership with Visa, my foundation aims to address this gap, with a focus on Nigeria. Our project will result in 2,500 women becoming agents in the retail network of a leading financial services provider. As retail agents, they will bring branchless banking and mobile financial services to tens of thousands more women in Nigeria. Alongside the retail agent opportunities, the women involved will also benefit from training and capacity building support.

Our primary aim is to enable a greater number of women entrepreneurs to enter the electronic payment value chain in Nigeria – a sector that is set to grow tremendously in the coming months and years.

Why start in Nigeria? Women in Nigeria experience cultural, social and systemic barriers to entrepreneurship including poor infrastructure, lack of connectivity and other barriers. Three times as many men as women have the benefits of being registered as self-employed in the country, and while there are women entrepreneurs in Nigeria, the majority of them are forced to operate in the informal sector. This collaboration would offer opportunities for women to set up registered businesses in a growing sector.

There is a commercial opportunity as well. With only 30% of Nigeria’s population (84.7 million) using banking services and with more than 159 million mobile phone subscriptions, there is great potential for agent banking and other models which enable remote access to financial services in the country. This is as yet an untapped market representing a multi-million dollar industry.

This partnership is a significant step forward towards financial inclusion for women in Nigeria. Economically empowering women by giving them access to the same financial services as men,  is not only a smart way to raise the status of women and their quality of life but also brings benefits to the families and communities of the women who succeed. My foundation is looking forward to developing this project further and driving financial inclusion for women in Nigeria.

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Posted by: Cherie Blair, Founder, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women on October 28, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Oct 28, 2013

Feeling Generous? Visa Joins Starbucks With Tweet-A-Coffee

Many of us take to Twitter on a regular basis to share our opinions, thoughts and lives with others. Starting today, consumers can use Twitter to share something different with their followers – a coffee.

Visa is teaming up with Starbucks to let Americans send the gift of coffee to anyone on Twitter  through tweet-a-coffee. As of this morning, Twitter users can sync their Starbucks account to Twitter and Tweet to @tweetacoffee, allowing you to send any of your Twitter followers a coffee. The person of your choice will receive a $5 Starbucks Card e-gift that can be redeemed at participating U.S. Starbucks locations. And today through November 6, the first 100,000 customers who tweet a coffee using their Visa card will also receive a $5 Starbucks Card e-gift, courtesy of Visa and Starbucks. Limit one per person.

You can learn more about how to tweet-a-coffee at www.starbucks.com/tweetacoffee, where you can also set up a Starbucks.com account if you don’t already have one.

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Posted by: Lucas Mast, Visa Corporate Relations on October 28, 2013 at 6:16 am

Sep 19, 2013

Hotwire and V.me Keep Summer Travel Going

With kids back in school and Labor Day behind us, September is a great time to snatch up last minute travel deals, and Hotwire and V.me by Visa are now making it even easier to buy them. Using V.me, busy travelers can find and book their favorite hotels at deep discounts using Hotwire and checkout with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Travel continues to be one of the most popular categories for eCommerce – 7 of 10 travelers booked their vacation entirely online last year.  And while eCommerce marks its eleventh consecutive quarter of double-digit year-over-year growth, it’s worth noting that according to comScore, 67% of online shopping carts are still abandoned before a purchase is ever completed.

Merchants recognize that simplifying check-out means reducing online cart abandonment, particularly as mCommerce transaction begin to gain in popularity.  Visa is helping #SavetheCart by offering V.me to streamline checkout and remove the hassle of entering bill to, ship to and account information with each purchase, no matter your device.

Learn more about how people are booking their travel today in the infographic below.

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Posted by: Kyrssa Guntrum, Visa Corporate Relations on September 19, 2013 at 9:50 am

Jul 22, 2013

Expanding Access to Electronic Payments in India

It is well-known now that mobile technology has changed the face of electronic payments in emerging markets. For the past decade, mobile phones have been instrumental in providing unbanked and under-banked consumers with secure, reliable and convenient ways to pay and be paid. Although a lot of progress has been made, here in India, more than 40 percent of the urban population is still unbanked and nearly 90 percent of commerce is still cash-based.

Visa and its clients in India are making great strides to change this reality. Recent stats from the Reserve Bank of India prove that progress: there are now 350 million payment cards activated in the country, many of these in rural areas, and penetration of electronic payments is rising. Through our joint venture with Monitise – Movida – we are enabling financial institutions in India to offer consumers to make payments via mobile phone. In fact, earlier today, Movida announced a new agreement with ICICI Bank to offer mobile payments to its customers in India. Everyday transactions like buying tickets, paying a bill or recharging a wireless account can now be made with any mobile phone, not just smartphones.

Because the service is designed to operate across all mobile networks using any payment card – both Visa and non-Visa – we expect that Indian consumers will be able to wave goodbye to long queues while visiting the post office or paying their bills at automated tellers. These transactions, along with insurance premium and other recurring payments, are now available securely and conveniently to clients of ICICI Bank directly via their mobile phones.

As India continues to expand and upgrade its telecommunications infrastructure to rural areas, more Indian consumers will have access to secure and reliable electronic payments and financial services via a mobile phone– a critical step in the migration from cash to more convenient, secure forms of payment.   

In the long run, electronic payments will help to drive financial inclusion and fuel economic development and growth in our country. It is an exciting time and at Visa, we are proud to play a role in the transformation of India.

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Posted by: Uttam Nayak, Group Country Manager, Visa Inc. on July 22, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Jul 18, 2013

Innovation in Development Disbursements: Visa Innovation Grant Recipients Announced

 

Today we’re proud to recognize the recipients of the Visa Innovation Grants Program. In partnership with NetHope, a consortium of more than 40 humanitarian organizations, and an Expert Advisory Committee of distinguished public and private sector leaders, five leading development organizations were selected to receive funding for projects that will modernize the distribution of agriculture, health and emergency relief payments to those living below the poverty line.

The Visa Innovation Grants Program is one component of Visa’s ongoing dedication to advancing financial inclusion around the world.  Every year, billions of dollars in cash payments are distributed to people in need through emergency relief efforts, benefit stipends, conditional cash transfers, microfinance programs, and other development initiatives.  Digitizing these payments through mobile phones or other electronic methods not only improves the distribution of aid, but can also help recipients gain access to broader financial services, including savings and electronic payments tools.

The group of five grantee organizations includes: Agribusiness Systems International (ASI), Freedom from Hunger, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Mercy Corps, and Pathfinder International.

Each organization has been awarded $100,000 to support innovation in and adoption of electronic payments. The projects are focused on a wide variety of sectors, yet all are seeking better ways to distribute aid to the people who need it most.

Here is an introduction to the projects selected for funding, which we will cover in depth in future posts:

  • Agribusiness Systems International (ASI)

ASI will use the Visa Innovation Grant to bring formal financial services to rice farmers in Ghana. The program will extend branchless banking in rural areas by integrating mobile finance into the rice value chain. Mobile finance will reduce the risk of theft, connect farmers and other actors with financial services, and ensure timely payments to farmers. Founded in 1993 as an affiliate of ACDI/VOCA, ASI is a nonprofit consulting organization that helps smallholder farmers become competitive in the agribusiness sector.

  • Freedom from Hunger

Freedom from Hunger will use the Visa Innovation Grant to improve access to health services in rural Ecuador by integrating electronic payments for health services through local microfinance institutions that provide health savings and credit accounts. The program combines payment services with improved access to health services and education. Freedom from Hunger has more than six decades of experience fighting global poverty and hunger, as well as developing and testing flexible and sustainable approaches that provide group-based financial services, education and access to additional products and services to poor women and youth.

  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

IFRC, along with its partner American Red Cross, will use the Visa Innovation Grant to design and test a rapidly implementable and scalable electronic cash transfer system(s) with Red Cross National Societies in Latin America and the Caribbean. Electronic payments improve security and transparency of aid payments, enable families to begin their recovery in the shortest time possible and create a pathway to more formal financial services. The IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, acting before, during and after disasters and crises to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people.

  • Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps will use the Visa Innovation Grant to provide smallholder farmers in Indonesia with access to mobile money, improving their productivity and increasing incomes. The program’s scalable and replicable model connects banks, mobile network operators and a full range of stakeholders in the agricultural value chain, while also helping farmers gain the knowledge and tools they need for success. Mercy Corps is an international development organization that helps people around the world survive and thrive after conflict, crisis and natural disaster.

  • Pathfinder International

Pathfinder International will use the Visa Innovation Grant to introduce a mobile money-based payroll system for its community health workers in Kenya. The pay-for-performance incentive model will be combined with access to real-time field data, improving transparency and the quality of services delivered. Pathfinder International is a nonprofit organization with a focus on access to contraception; maternal and newborn health; and HIV and AIDS services. The organization has implemented projects in more than 100 countries worldwide, and is recognized for its innovative and responsive approaches to meeting health needs at the community level.

There were many impressive ideas submitted by all applicants, and we believe these projects have particular promise for scaling electronic payments across diverse sectors. We look forward to supporting these projects and seeing how each will spur new ideas and models for the future of aid and development payments around the globe.

[Photo above: Elizabeth Mueni (right), a community health worker in Kenya trained by Pathfinder International, uses a mobile phone to collect data and track the health needs of her clients. Photo by Sala Lewis.]

 Check back for more updates about the Visa Innovation Grants Program and the group of recipients highlighted above.

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on July 18, 2013 at 6:13 am

Jun 10, 2013

Accelerating the migration to electronic payments through mobile acceptance solutions

The way we pay has evolved dramatically over the last 50 years. The “electronification” of commerce has helped to stimulate economic growth, reducing inefficiencies and providing consumers convenient and secure access to their funds. Mobile technology, in particular the introduction of low cost mobile “card readers” is helping to drive the migration from cash and checks to electronic forms of payments.

From emerging markets, where traditional acceptance infrastructure simply does not exist, to farmers markets and coffee shops in developed countries, mobile point-of-sale acceptance is helping to displace cash payments and enabling merchants of all sizes – even the smallest ones – to accept card payments. It is an inventive solution from both the technology and business model points of view, which leverages the broad penetration of mobile phones to add acceptance to those segments of merchants where cash used to be the only available option.

At Visa, we see great potential to accelerate the migration to electronic payments through mPOS solutions. By helping to promote the use of these services in the Visa system, we believe they will have a greater uptake and benefit more consumers and merchants worldwide. But we want to do that in a responsible way, so to ensure that innovative payments like mPOS technology provides the same security, reliability and scale as traditional payment terminals.

This is why earlier this year we launched the Visa Ready Program, a streamlined process for the testing and approval of new payment solutions that enables our business partners to more rapidly deploy products for use with Visa payments. Last week, we’ve announced five new leading mobile acceptance providers to join the program: AnywhereCommerce, iZettle, Miura Systems, SumUp and Swiff. Two of them, AnywhereCommerce and Miura System, already have mPOS devices that are approved to accept Visa payments.

There are over two billion Visa cards around the world today and with every new mPOS device that is put out there lays an opportunity to displace paper-based payments. In the United States alone, mPOS can help to migrate more than $1.1 trillion yearly from paper to electronic payments[1]. This is a tremendous opportunity for solutions providers, financial institutions and merchants. Visa is ready to help our clients and partners seize this great momentum, while at the same time giving consumers the peace of mind they need to transact in the mobile channel.

For detailed information on last week’s announcement, click here.

 


[1] Javelin Strategy & Research, Mobile POS (Point of Sale) Business and Market Impact 2013: Emerging Technologies Expand Reach with Lower Cost, Disruptive Services, April 2013, www.javelinstrategy.com

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Posted by: Matt Dill, Global Head of Business Development on June 10, 2013 at 11:56 am

Mar 21, 2013

Voices of Inclusion: Premal Shah, Kiva.org

From the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, Visa’s Head of Corporate Responsibility, Douglas Sabo, continues a series of conversations with leaders from the financial inclusion community.

Next up, we speak with Premal Shah, President of Kiva.org. While best known for its work connecting the Internet community with entrepreneurs in emerging markets, Kiva.org has expanded its scope to include support for aspiring entrepreneurs in the U.S. We speak to Premal during the launch event for Kiva City Little Rock, the latest addition to the Kiva City initiative that expands the availability of financial resources to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Kiva City is a partnership between Kiva and Visa Inc. launched at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in June 2011.

Watch more videos in the “Voices of Inclusion” series.

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on March 21, 2013 at 9:11 am

Feb 26, 2013

Postcards From #MWC13: Greetings from Bill Gajda

Greetings from Barcelona!

Mobile World Congress is underway and Visa’s presence is stronger than ever. With mobile commerce and mobile payments listed among MWC13’s top three agenda items, Visa’s Head of Mobile Bill Gajda (@billgajda) welcomes those in person and online to #MWC13.  For those attending the show, please drop byVisa’s booth  at Hall 6, Booth 6E40.

As we continue to feature highlights from the show  floor, we welcome you to share comments and questions around Mobile World Congress.  Follow us @VisaNews for updates from #MWC13!

Watch the clip below to see a welcome note from Bill:

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Posted by: Lucas Mast, Visa Corporate Relations on February 26, 2013 at 6:26 am

Feb 25, 2013

Postcards from #MWC13: Visa’s Bill Gajda Talks NFC

Kicking off Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona today, Visa’s Head of Global Mobile Products Bill Gajda (@billgajda) particpated on a panel entitled ”Building the Ecosystem for NFC Services”.  Visa will be providing updates through the weeklong event, which is expected to draw 80,000+ attendees from around the world.

Alsong with  executives from Turkcell, ISIS and the GSMA, Gadja discussed the current state of NFC, as NFC services are continuing to be rolled-out by mobile operators, payment providers and handset manufacturers across the world.

In other NFC-related news, Visa also annouced a global partnership with Samsung, embedding Visa’s NFC software in a range of Samsung mobile devices and tablets. 

For more information on Visa’s news and activities at Mobile World Congress, follow us @VisaNews on Twitter and check out our Mobile World Congress Media Kit, which is updated with the latest news, blog posts, videos, fact sheets and photos.

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Posted by: Lucas Mast, Visa Corporate Relations on February 25, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Dec 11, 2012

The Mashable Innovation Index 2012 Winner’s Circle

Less than four weeks and more than 22 thousand votes since the Mashable Innovation Index competition kicked off, 15 winners have been crowned for their role in creating life-changing innovations.  Last month 15 handpicked industry experts were chosen to curate 15 innovative categories and nominate five “game-changers.”  Mashable readers were then asked to vote on their favorites, and the winners are being revealed today.

Nominees selected by Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer of Columbia University

Nominees selected by Martha Stewart, Entrepreneur

Nominees selected by Lance Ulanoff, Editor-in-Chief of Mashable

Nominees selected by Stacy London, Host of What Not to Wear and Founder, Style for Hire

Nominees selected by Adam Braun, Founder of Pencils of Promise

Nominees selected by Jess Lee, CEO and Co-Founder of Polyvore

Nominees selected by Chris Hughes, Editor-in-Chief of The New Republic

Nominees selected by Lorena Garcia, Chef

Nominees selected by Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Co-Founder of Gilt Groupe

Nominees selected by Jon M. Chu, Filmmaker and Founder of DS2DIO

Nominees selected by Rafat Ali, Founder of Skift

  • Winner in Travel: High-Tech Airports

Nominees selected by Brett Terpstra, Podcaster and Life Hacker

Nominees selected by Coco Rocha, Model

Nominees selected by Sarah Robb O’Hagan, President, Equinox

 Nominees selected by Jon Dube, GM of CBS Fantasy Sports

V.me by Visa and Mashable recognize 2012 has been an outstanding year for innovation.  These 15 winners are setting new technology trends, creating new products, changing the way people connect and communicate, and reinventing the way consumers shop and merchants do business.

We’re inspired by the level of innovation each winner represents, and we offer our congratulations to all the winners.

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Posted by: Ryan Donovan, Corporate Relations on December 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm