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Visa promises to invest $1 billion in Africa’s payment system over the next five years.

Visa has committed to spending $1 billion over the following five years to improve Africa’s payment environment. The international payment company made the investment announcement on Wednesday during the US-Africa Business Forum.

The investment will, in the company’s words, “seek to advance resilient, innovative, and inclusive economies across the continent” and “demonstrates its long-term commitment to Africa’s growth potential while enabling greater access to digital payments as an entry point for expanding formal financial services for people and businesses,” the statement added.

Visa is also planning to scale its operations in Africa and deepen collaboration with strategic partners including government, financial institutions, mobile network operators, fintechs, and merchants.

Al Kelly, chairman and CEO Visa, Inc said the company has been investing in Africa for several decades to grow a truly local business and plans to remain in that trajectory.

“Every day, Visa supports digital commerce and money movement in every country across the continent, and Africa remains central to Visa’s long-term growth plans. We look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners to advance the financial ecosystem, accelerate digitization, and build resilient, innovative, and inclusive economies that will create shared opportunity and further spur Africa’s digital economy,” Kelly said.

The company said it is dedicated to empowering small and women-led entrepreneurship in Africa through its operations and community programs. This will go a long way to reduce the estimated 500 million people in Africa who are without access to formal financial services and less than 50 percent of the adult population made or received digital payments in Africa and more than 40 million merchants that do not accept digital payments.

“Africa is experiencing an unprecedented digital acceleration, with a growing number of consumers, merchants, and businesses realizing the benefits of secure and convenient digital payments to fuel commerce and money movement,” said Aida Diarra, Senior Vice President, Visa Sub-Saharan Africa. “Over the past year, Visa has continued growing our investment in Africa, through new offices, new innovations and solutions, and programs that are directly supporting financial inclusion. The investment pledge outlines our long-term commitment to Africa and the work we will do to help advance the financial ecosystem.”

Some of the strategic investments Visa has made to advance its Africa expansion include establishing local operations for the first time in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Sudan to help support and strengthen the local financial ecosystem. Visa has 10 offices across Africa from which it supports payments in all 54 countries.

Visa unveiled the first dedicated Visa Sub-Saharan Africa Innovation Studio, in Nairobi, Kenya, to provide a state-of-the-art environment to bring together clients and partners to co-create future-ready payment and commerce solutions.

The company also introduced new technologies that help consumers and merchants across Africa make and receive digital payments, such as Tap to Phone which can turn a simple mobile phone into a payment device, as well as lowering remittance costs through innovative solutions like Visa Direct.

“Expanding financial inclusion is critical to long-term economic prosperity, and we are proud to have worked with financial and public sector partners to launch new initiatives such as She’s Next,” said Leila Serhan, Senior Vice President, Visa North Africa Levant and Pakistan. “We look forward to continuing to support programs that advance inclusion and prosperity while introducing new innovations designed for consumers and businesses across Africa.”

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