Visa’s launched their mobile payments solution, mVisa, in Kenya and so far, they’ve partnered with four banks – Co-Operative Bank, Family Bank, KCB, and NIC Bank.

mVisa is a service that allows users receive and make payments on their smartphones either by using merchants’ phone numbers or scanning QR codes. It launched in India last year and Kenya’s the first African country to have the service. Kenya has one of the largest mobile money penetration rates in Africa and it makes sense for Visa to tap into this market.

According to Andrew Torre, Group Country Manager for Visa in Sub-Sahara Africa, “It is an exciting time as we work with our Kenyan partners to bring a new mobile payment solution to accelerate commerce. Kenyans already understand the benefits of mobile payments, and mVisa offers them a better way to pay and be paid, with a service which is not limited by the mobile network they have or the handset they use. The service also brings the advantages of Visa’s global network – security, reliability and global acceptance – and allows consumers to make payments both domestically and internationally.”

The general speculation is that mVisa will take on Safaricom’s M-Pesa, but while these are both mobile payment platforms, they don’t exactly have the same reach or process. For instance, mVisa users need to have accounts in one of the partner banks, while M-Pesa just need their ID cards and registered phone numbers.

This is probably why M-Pesa is so popular – it’s not very restrictive. With approximately 16.6 million active users, M-Pesa processed transactions worth over KES5.29 trillion ($52.6 billion) last year. One thing mVisa has over M-Pesa though, is that it’s not bound by a mobile network service. This is one thing that has hindered M-Pesa’s growth in other African countries.

mVisa plans to launch in four more African countries – Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda – by the end of the year.

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