Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints


Jan 14, 2014

Financial Services

Visa Extends Winning Partnership With FIFA


Ricardo Fort, Visa SVP Global Sponsorship Marketing, (middle) joined FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter (left) and FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke (right) for Visa’s sponsorship renewal announcement at the Home of FIFA in Zurich.

In a small ceremony at the Home of FIFA today in Zurich, Visa was proud to formalize the continuation of our sponsorship of FIFA as the exclusive partner in the financial services product category for another eight years through 2022. The agreement maintains the unity of the world’s favorite sport with the world’s leading payment brand, a strategic relationship that features shared core values of market leadership, global ubiquity, acceptance and public awareness.

Under the leadership of President Blatter, this exciting period will see the FIFA World CupTM staged in first-time markets of Russia (in 2018) and Qatar (in 2022) – the latter being the first time ever for the event being staged in the Middle East. Additionally, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World CupTM will also highlight more than 40 other FIFA championships to be held during that time period. Through our relationship with FIFA, Visa will truly be “everywhere you want be” in celebration of football.

The FIFA partnership is a particularly important one for Visa, enabling us to work with the world football community to drive business objectives with our global clients, benefit communities and connect more with fans. As we look to the future, we will draw on the success of the past to provide unique experiences for our clients around FIFA’s signature events. Concurrently, we will work to make a strong impact in global communities and to create more pathways for people to enter the formal financial system.

In late December Visa launched its marketing campaign for the 2014 FIFA World CupTM in Brazil. Today’s announcement enables us to not only look forward to the global campaign rollout in March and the historic event that will take place in June and July across Brazil, but also begin to build on those plans for a long future with FIFA.



Posted by: Ricardo Fort, SVP of Global Sponsorship Marketing, Visa Inc. on January 14, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Oct 28, 2013

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.


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


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

Feb 27, 2013

Postcards from #MWC13: Ashwin Raj on Emerging Markets

As Visa’s Head of Mobile Product in Emerging Markets, Ashwin Raj talks about the importance of Visa’s participation at Mobile World Congress and how it allows Visa to showcase our capabilities, offering a view of what we have accomplished so far–as well articulate our vision for the future of payments.

Ashwin explains how mobile technology has revolutionized the way financial services reach unbanked and under-served consumers in emerging markets and the role Visa plays in making mobile money transactions secure, reliable and convenient.

See Ashwin’s full interview below:


Posted by: Lucas Mast, Visa Corporate Relations on February 27, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Feb 25, 2013

Unlocking the Potential: Women and Mobile Financial Services in Emerging Markets

Visa, in conjunction with the GSMA mWomen Programme and Bankable Frontier Associates, is pleased to announce the release of Unlocking the Potential: Women and Mobile Financial Services in Emerging Markets. This new report identifies the financial needs of women living at the bottom of the pyramid; key findings include:

  • Women actively contribute to household income. Seventy-five percent of women surveyed contribute some amount of income, most often from irregular sources like small businesses or agricultural sales.
  • Women use a variety of tools to manage household finances. Nearly 60 percent of women surveyed are saving money for daily expenses and long-term needs, and a full one-third pay the family’s utility bills or make other types of remittances.
  • Women recognize the security and privacy of mobile money. In Kenya, for example, 95 percent of women using mobile remittances rated them as secure and private. In comparison, only half of those using personal delivery of cash as their primary method consider it secure and private.

Additionally, the study identifies actionable next steps for mobile financial service providers that want to expand their business to reach this untapped market, including: increasing mobile access for women; providing better financial literacy services to encourage awareness and understanding; delivering high-quality customer service; and developing targeted solutions to existing barriers faced by women in these markets.

This effort is part of Visa’s ongoing efforts to advance financial inclusion in the developing world. Given that women make up a majority of the 2.5 billion adults who lack access to formal financial products, this report has particular significance for these efforts. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to bring more underserved women into the financial mainstream, thereby reducing the cycle of poverty throughout the world.

For more information on the report, please click here. To read the full report, please visit the GSMA website.



Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on February 25, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Feb 19, 2013

Empowering Women with Mobile Money: Stories from the Field

In the final piece in our five-part series highlighting the role of mobile financial services for women in developing countries, we sat down with Wajiha Ahmed of Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) to discuss her experiences in Indonesia. Wajiha’s work will be part of research conducted by Visa, the GSMA mWomen Programme and BFA that explores the role of mobile financial services for women in developing countries.

In her interview, Wajiha explored the financial challenges facing women in both rural and urban Indonesia. Despite significant barriers, women have developed innovative solutions to supplement the lack of formal savings tools with informal mechanisms that help meet their needs.

Watch Wajiha share her in-field experience in this video interview and read more in her guest contribution on Mobile Payments Today.



Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on February 19, 2013 at 9:28 am

Feb 14, 2013

Empowering Women with Mobile Money: Stories from the Field

Visa, the GSMA mWomen Programme and Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) will soon release the results of a study exploring the role of mobile financial services for women in developing countries. We sat down with BFA Associate Niketa Kulkarni to discuss her experiences conducting focus groups for the study in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Niketa shares her observations of financial management in PNG, a tight-knit environment where it is not uncommon to share money and goods within personal communities. She explores many of the challenges of financial services within this unique culture, and opportunities for how mobile services can help ease some of the burdens.

Watch Niketa share her in-field experience in this video interview and read more on her guest contribution on Mobile Payments Today. This is the fourth in a series of articles exploring mobile financial services in developing economies.


Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on February 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Feb 13, 2013

Visa Accelerates Access to Financial Services

Extending the benefits of electronic payments to more people has always been a priority for Visa. This morning we took a major step toward giving unbanked consumers in developing countries access to the security and reliability of electronic payments and financial services.

Visa today announced the launch of a new service that makes it easy and cost-effective for financial institutions and mobile network operators in developing countries to offer unbanked consumers access to financial services by linking a virtual account that is tied to a consumers’ mobile-phone number. Aircel and ICICI in India, as well as Bank of Kigali and Urwego Opportunity Banks in Rwanda are the first to take advantage of this service.

Why is this important? The ability to pay a utility bill, send money to a relative living in another country, or withdraw money at an ATM by simply texting payment instructions to the bank is a game changer for consumers in countries where cash has been the only form of payment, and where paying bills usually means standing in line for hours.

This is just the beginning. More than 2 billion consumers worldwide are unbanked, many of whom own a mobile phone. It is the ubiquity of mobile technology, especially in developing countries, that is finally making it possible for us to extend financial services to the unbanked. Today’s announcement is a great example of Visa’s role in this journey, which is to harness mobile technology to enable financial institutions and mobile operators to drive access to formal financial services and electronic payments.

For more information about Visa Mobile Managed Service, click here.


Posted by: Jim McCarthy, Head of Global Product, Visa Inc. on February 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Feb 12, 2013

Empowering Women with Mobile Money: Stories from the Field

 In advance of releasing research between Visa, GSMA mWomen Programme and Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) that explores the role of mobile financial services for women in developing countries, we sat down with BFA Research Manager Michelle Hasan to discuss her experiences conducting fieldwork for the study in Kenya.

Michelle reported some interesting findings from Kenya, home of one of the most mature mobile financial services markets in the world. With many people already sending and receiving money via mobile phone, Michelle was able to learn first-hand the likes and dislikes about these services.

Michelle shares her experience in Kenya in a guest contribution on Mobile Payments Today. Also watch BFA Director Daryl Collins share similar feedback from her experiences in Kenya in this video interview.  This is the third in a series of articles exploring mobile financial services in developing economies.


Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on February 12, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Feb 7, 2013

Empowering Women with Mobile Money: Stories from the Field

In advance of the release of the ground-breaking research between Visa, the GSMA mWomen Programme and Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) that explores the role of mobile financial services for women in developing countries, we sat down with BFA Associate Kristy Bohling to discuss her experiences conducting fieldwork for the study in Tanzania.

Kristy explored the lifestyles of mobile money users and non-users, assessing the barriers that still exist for underserved women in Tanzania, and exploring opportunities for empowering more women to use mobile financial services.

Watch Kristy share her in-field experience in this video interview. Kristy also shares her experiences in a guest contribution on Mobile Payments Today , the second in a five-part series exploring mobile financial services in developing economies.


Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on February 7, 2013 at 9:19 am