Viewpoints

Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints

PERSPECTIVES ON DIGITAL CURRENCY

Jun 5, 2013

Rwanda

Postcards from East Asia World Economic Forum: Financial Inclusion in Myanmar

Our participation in the East Asia World Economic Forum (here in the Myanmar capital, Nay Pyi Taw) kicked off with a lunchtime discussion on how to advance financial inclusion in the region. Interesting table discussions featured a healthy mix of senior representatives from governments, private sector and NGOs and offered great opportunity for Visa to talk about our ideas and product solutions, especially mobile.

Inevitably much of the discussion centered on Myanmar itself, where the government is facing multiple infrastructure and regulatory challenges at the same time. With a huge unbanked sector and a very low penetration of mobile (around 4%) it’s going to take a long time for mobile banking to be a viable solution and so all parties are going to have to focus on alternative near term solutions.

Nonetheless, the government seems really committed to learning how to make progress. The minister of finance, who was an active table discussion participant, proved to be incredibly thoughtful in his approach which is consistent with how we have found working with the government to this point.

No doubt, huge amount of work to be done but, as in Rwanda, having a government and banking sector which is set on making progress despite the challenges is half the battle. Combine this with Visa’s early success in hooking up ATMs and signing up more than 350 merchants over the last six months and it seems clear that Myanmar is set to be another electronic payments success story.

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Posted by: Stephen Kehoe, Head of Corporate Relations, APCEMEA on June 5, 2013 at 9:25 am

Apr 11, 2013

Portfolios of Rwanda: Insights Into the Lives of the Financially Underserved

Rwanda Partners with Visa to Advance Financial  Inclusion

Last week in Kigali, Visa teamed up with Bankable Frontiers Associates, AFR and Ntare Insights to share the results of new research into the day-to-day lives of financially underserved Rwandans. Utilizing the Financial Diaries methodology derived from Portfolios of the Poor, the research, led by BFA Director and Portfolios co-author Daryl Collins, tracked the daily cash flows and financial activities of 59 individuals from 40 households over a two month period.

In a joint post today on CGAP, Visa and BFA discuss the research, including the finding that in markets like Rwanda, where significant strides have already been made to extend the reach of financial services, the evidence suggests that the challenge for the financial sector is less one of access and more one of relevance.

This new research, Portfolios of Rwanda, is just one aspect of Visa’s work in support of our Charter of Collaboration with the government of Rwanda. The charter, renewed in 2012, is helping to lay the foundation for electronic payments, promote innovation and build capacity to ensure the long-term sustainability of financial systems in Rwanda.

Related videos:
Voices of Inclusion: Daryl Collins
Product Development in Rwanda

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on April 11, 2013 at 10:58 am

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.

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

Nov 13, 2012

Rwanda, Inc.: Developing a model for economic growth

As you know, last December, Visa and the Government of Rwanda announced a groundbreaking partnership to ‘electronify’ the Rwandan economy.  The partnership aims to connect 11 million Rwandans to the formal financial sector.  To do this, we have been focused on key areas including: developing the basic infrastructure needed to enable country-wide use of electronic payments, promoting electronic payments innovation by taking advantage of rapidly developing technologies like mobile payments, and building capacity and infrastructure through financial literacy and job training programs.

It is the clear vision and strategy for growth in Rwanda that Andrea Redmond and Patricia Crisafulli chronicle in their new book, Rwanda, Inc., which launched today.  We are proud to be in the company of such qualified individuals who also see Rwanda as the “ultimate turnaround” story.  The book describes how, in two decades, Rwanda went from complete devastation after the genocide 18 years ago to impressive economic development and GDP growth that has lifted one million people out of poverty in the past five years alone.  Through direct access to the Rwandan government, the authors take the reader through Rwanda’s complicated past, from civil war and genocide to the promising present.

Like Andrea, we believe in the opportunity that exists in the region, and have focused our financial inclusion strategy to target a very important customer base, both for Visa and the Rwandan government, to help build a model for other appropriate economies. Enabling individuals opportunities to better manage their financial lives is a significant step towards advancing economic expansion.

We are honored to support Andrea in the launch of her insightful book, and believe in its message. Rwanda is open for business, and we are proud to be there.

NOTE: Andrea Redmond is a consultant who works with corporate boards, CEOs, Fortune 500 companies, and private investors.  She sits on several boards of directors, including The Allstate Corporation, Children’s Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University Hospital, and the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center.

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Posted by: Doug Michelman, Global Head, Corporate Relations, Visa Inc. on November 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Apr 25, 2012

Visa Recognized for Investing in Sustainable Development

Note: Today, Visa is being honored with the inaugural Corporate Award presented by the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation. The following is a guest submission from Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer, Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Since 2004, the Millennium Challenge Corporation has been leading the fight against global poverty. As an innovative and independent U.S. development assistance agency, we are changing the conversation on how best to deliver smart assistance by focusing on good policies, country-owned development solutions and results. Our success rests in large part on our ability to forge successful partnerships for sustainable development. This means partnering with countries around the world, civil society, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and other government agencies.

One lesson we know for sure: Assistance alone is not enough. What will be enough to tip the scale toward sustainable growth is the innovation and investment driven by the private sector. The private sector creates jobs and new products. The private sector is where entrepreneurs are born and thrive. And, the growth, investment, trade, and business generated by the private sector will help lift people out of poverty.

Today, the Millennium Challenge Corporation convenes our first Forum on Global Development. This will be a unique occasion for visionaries and practitioners in international development to meet, exchange ideas and honor three outstanding awardees for their work on gender integration, investment and innovation.

On behalf of MCC, I am proud that we will recognize Visa as the recipient of our first Corporate Award for demonstrating exemplary commitment to eradicating poverty in the developing world. We are impressed with Visa’s commitment to advancing financial inclusion by leveraging its core business along with innovation, strategic partnerships and financial literacy. We applaud Visa’s public-private partnership with the Government of Rwanda, including the extensive Charter of Collaboration as well as partnerships with organizations such as Women’s World Banking and GSMA mWomen, to advance financial access for women and their efforts to bring financial literacy education to millions of people worldwide.

In the global fight against financial exclusion and poverty, no single organization has all the answers. But through innovative solutions from—and partnerships among—governments, the private sector and civil society, we are making a difference.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation funds country-led solutions for reducing poverty through sustainable economic growth. 

U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin presents Visa with the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Corporate Award

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Posted by: Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer, Millennium Challenge Corporation on April 25, 2012 at 7:54 am

Dec 5, 2011

A Uniquely Rwandan Financial Literacy Partnership

Outside on the streets of Kigali, the constant bleats from motorbike horns provide the distinctly African soundtrack. Only steps away, but oblivious to the commotion, are 20 Rwandan college students from the School of Finance and Banking who are sitting inside a customized ICT Bus helping shape the future of financial literacy in this “Land of a thousand hills.”

As part of Visa’s announcement with the Government of Rwanda this week in Rwanda, we also began the process of working collaboratively with the government to bring our financial literacy expertise to the country.

And while we are experts in delivering innovative personal finance education, only Rwandans have that unique perspective on what will resonate most with their fellow countrymen.

Rwandans are optimistic and understandably proud of their densely-packed nation and the college students take seriously their responsibility of helping us create a customized version of the educational video game “Financial Football” for their country.

Which is what brings these students to this mobile computer lab, equipped with 20 of the latest laptops. Each has “Financial Football” up on their screen and is putting the free game through its paces. Some are testing in English, others in Kinyarwanda, but all have the same goal: ensuring the final version of the fast-paced, money management game will engage and educate their peers.

Government officials, including the Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda and the Minister of Information and Communications Technology, joined Visa in coming to see the students in action. They saw firsthand what will be needed to create relevant personal finance questions, which serve as the core of the game. Players answer multiple-choice questions correctly to advance down the field for a chance to score a goal, all while learning key concepts about saving, responsible spending and budgeting.

The process will take several months, but in the end, Rwandans will have taken another step in shaping their own future and making this country a shining star in the heart of Africa.

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Posted by: Jason Alderman, Visa Corporate Relations on December 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Dec 4, 2011

Delivering Electronic Financial Services in Africa

Greetings from Rwanda.

I am delighted to be posting this blog from Kigali, Rwanda where, along-side Ambassador Claver Gatete, Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, we just announced a new public-private partnership between Visa and the Government of Rwanda to electronify financial services.

Why have we entered into this partnership and what is it all about?

At Visa, we believe that everyone has a right to access basic financial and payment services.  And over the past six months, we have been working closely with the Government of Rwanda to forge a partnership to accelerate the delivery of such services to the Rwandan population.

Today, we are proud to share an overview of our collective labors: a Charter of Collaboration aimed at developing localized solutions to extend access to financial services to local and international consumers throughout the country.

The Charter of Collaboration encompasses 12 initiatives structured around three key areas identified by the Government of Rwanda and Visa as vital to the development of a fully-inclusive financial system:

Laying the Foundations for Electronic Payments – We have committed to working together to develop the basic infrastructure requirements which will enable country-wide use of electronic payments.  This means facilitating the widespread issuance and acceptance of payment cards and the localization of clearing and settlement services.

Promoting Electronic Payments Innovation –Secondly, we have agreed to work to ensure that Rwanda can take advantage of modern technologies to reach Rwandans who are under-served by traditional payments infrastructure.  I expect mobile payments to be a big part of this solution and we’ll talk more about that in the coming months.

Capacity Building –Finally, building a robust electronic payment infrastructure requires more than products and technology.  To ensure long-term economic success, we have committed to delivering a coordinated and sustained program of capacity building.  This will comprise a range of initiatives designed to increase financial literacy and provide industry training and experience for local Rwandans.

You can see the detail of the Charter itself by following this link.

Public-private partnership is a cornerstone of Rwanda’s approach to development.  It is also a key component of Visa’s global growth strategy as well.  To me, this Charter has all the makings of a classic win-win and we’ll be certain to keep you informed of progress

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Posted by: Elizabeth Buse, Visa Group President, Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East & Africa on December 4, 2011 at 9:00 pm