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By NBF News
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By Emmanuel Elebeke
Global payments technology company, Visa Incorporation last week announced a significant step to bringing access to secure financial services and electronic payments to consumers in developing countries by introducing a new product serving the needs of unbanked and under-banked consumers.

The new product, a Visa prepaid account that can be accessed through a mobile phone, offers consumers in developing countries a secure, reliable, globally interoperable electronic payment account

Meanwhile MTN Group, has said that it would offer the new Visa product to MTN Mobile Money customers across its markets. It said the new product will be available to customers in Nigeria and Uganda.

Visa's new product will enhance the security, scale and interoperability of the mobile money programs, while extending their payment functionality by enabling account holders to send funds to each other, send and receive international remittances, make purchases at merchants or online where Visa is accepted or withdraw funds at a Visa ATM.

Head of product for Visa Inc, Mr Jim McCarthy, said that 'reaching consumers who have previously lacked access to formal financial services with secure and reliable electronic payments is finally a reality,' adding that 'Mobile technology has become the single most important driver of financial inclusion that is enabling financial institutions, mobile network operators and Visa to connect unbanked consumers to each other and the global economy.'

How it works
The mobile phone is changing how consumers around the world pay and get paid, and offers financial service providers in developing countries a new, efficient channel to serve the unbanked and under-banked. In the last ten years, 100 million[2] people have been newly 'banked' through mobile services that offer consumers basic financial services that are limited in geographic reach.

Visa's recent acquisition of Fundamo, a leading mobile money platform in developing countries, and its integration into Visa, has created the first globally interoperable mobile payment platform that can connect existing mobile money services with Visa's global payment network, VisaNet.

The result is a new Visa product that allows financial service providers together with mobile network operators to offer consumers a payment account that provides Visa's high standards of security, reliability and global interoperability, including:

Visa-quality payment security
The new product combines Visa's advanced risk processing technology with the security and authentication features of mobile devices, offering consumers in developing countries peace of mind when making purchases. Regardless of transaction size or where consumers make purchases, Visa and the account issuer will be able to authenticate the account holder at the point of transaction by requesting a PIN or password.  In addition, Visa's fraud monitoring capabilities can help mitigate and prevent fraud.

Visa payment functionality
From international remittances to e-commerce transactions Visa's new product will offer consumers a new payment account that enhances the payment functionality of their existing mobile money service. In markets with Visa acceptance locations, consumers may also have the option to receive a Visa prepaid companion card that can be used at ATMs and merchants where Visa is accepted.

Transaction Authorization, Clearing and Settlement Services

For financial institutions and mobile network operators offering Visa's new mobile prepaid product, Visa will offer a full suite of payment processing and account management services supported by the world's largest payments network, VisaNet.

Developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America are among the first target markets for Visa's new mobile-based prepaid product.

Visa is working closely with financial institutions, mobile network operators, governments and non-governmental organizations in developing countries to extend access to financial services and electronic payments, helping drive economic growth and financial inclusion by migrating cash spend to electronic payments.