NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 5 – The over 125 million consumers in the East African Community region continue to attract external investors, with Visa the global payments company, opening a new regional office in Nairobi.
The hub will serve as a platform from which Visa will coordinate work with governments, NGOs and financial institutions to provide formal financial services to the consumers in the region.
However the Nairobi office is expected to serve over 20 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Speaking at the official opening of the new office in Nairobi, Visa Group President of Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa (APCEMEA), Elizabeth Buse, said EAC has become a vital market for many companies in recent years, and that Visa will have a comprehensive strategy in place for the market, to grow its electronic payment solutions.
She says Visa plans to bring secure and reliable financial services to the region especially to the unbanked population which stands at more than 12 million people in Kenya alone, according to Central Bank of Kenya and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics
“Mobile payments are now a part of everyday life in sub-Saharan Africa, and nowhere more so than in Kenya and the broader EAC region. The World Bank estimates that 68 percent of Kenyan adults use a mobile phone for money transactions, the highest in the world. This technology is a not to be missed opportunity to bring the convenience and affordability of electronic payments to millions of East Africans who are still unbanked.”Buse said.
She added that the company is working on coming up with measures of ensuring security in consumers transactions, due to the increase of fraud cases using debit and credit cards.
Finance Minister Njeru Githae, who graced the occasion, underscored the importance of partnership in developing an electronic payment infrastructure in Kenya.
“We have a long way to go to reach the majority of the unbanked population to move towards our vision of a middle income economy. We cannot work in isolation. Close cooperation between the government, private sector and financial institutions is vital,” he said.
Visa which has 25 client banks in Kenya hopes to generate $14 million (Sh1.2bilion) in revenue by 2015.