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Visa to set up base in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 14 – Payments technology company Visa is set to open its regional offices for sub Saharan Africa in Kenya within the first half of the year.

The move will shift its operations from South Africa, with the new offices responsible for the East African region as well as English-speaking Sub Saharan countries.
In a statement, Visa Group General Manager-Africa Gerald Hawkins said Kenya presents an ideal opportunity for the company to grow its existing electronic payments business as well as deepen its footprint across Africa.

"Local presence will allow Visa to focus on the specific needs of the local Kenyan banks, ensuring that we are working with them to address the needs of the Kenyan consumer and payment\’s landscape as well as providing a focused, efficient team on the ground in Kenya," Mr Hawkins said.

Mr Hawkins said the office is planned to open in June 2011, but that would be dependent on various processes and procedures that need to address before being able to open an office.

The move is also part of Visa\’s strategy to capitalise on increased use of credit cards in the country as well as facilitate online payments.

There are currently around three million Visa branded cards in the market with payment Volume having grown by 20.4 percent paying in excess of $360 million (Sh30 billion).

With the deepening of financial services in the country as well as the region, Mr Hawkins said operating from Kenya would enable the company respond more effectively to the needs of its 22 partner banks (Kenya).

Visa hopes to increase card penetration in the country by replacing costly inefficient forms of payment such as cash by offering consumers more choices through credit, debit and prepaid products.

Visa intends to grow the use debit by giving consumers more places to use their debit cards especially in everyday spend categories such as mobile airtime, groceries and restaurants.

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Mr Hawkins said Visa plans to at least double the number of point of sale terminals in the country from the current 9,000 locations.

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