Visa launches open platform for mobile money

Payment processor Visa has launched a mobile banking product to serve consumers in developing nations. The company said that its Prepaid Mobile offering will provide an open platform for existing mobile money systems.

The product development was led by South African mobile money platform provider Fundamo, which Visa acquired in June 2011. It provides a platform for “closed loop” mobile money services provided by financial institutions and mobile operators, which are confined to their local markets.

“Visa is the largest payment processor in the world, so it’s got a vast global network that connects the financial systems of the world together, and that allows financial firms to process payment transactions across that network seamlessly,” said Aletha Ling, COO at Fundamo.

“Similarly, Visa Prepaid Mobile is an “open loop” system. This product provides a connection between local mobile money services into the Visa network, in order to bring global interoperability and new features into play, and that makes it fundamentally unique to what is being offered locally in these markets.”

She added that the product is aimed at banks and mobile operators that currently work with Fundamo, financial institutions that work with Visa, and other mobile money service providers that want to join the open loop system. Consumers of existing mobile money services will be able to use more features if their mobile money providers sign up to the product, such as withdrawing money from a Visa ATM, transferring funds internationally and performing e-commerce transactions over the web.

African and Middle East mobile operator MTN plans to offer the new Visa product to MTN Mobile Money customers across its markets. As part of the launch, the new product will be available to customers in Nigeria and Uganda.

The product aims to bring financial services to the 2.5 billion people in the world today who are underbanked or unbanked.

“This is the next generation of openness when it comes to mobile money systems,” said Ling. “Mobile money is the one way that we can see that we will be able to serve all of the unbanked and underbanked people in the world.”

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