Senior staff from global payments firm Visa have said mobile solutions could be a powerful tool in increasing financial inclusion, particularly in Africa.
Andrew Torre, group country manager for Visa, sub-Saharan Africa told regional media this week that traditional identity inclusions approaches will need to be redesigned.
“Africa as a continent has not lived up to its promise of full financial inclusion for both consumers and SMEs – there is still work to be done, says Andrew Torre, group country manager for Visa, sub-Saharan Africa. “The continent remains a high-potential, low-performance market when it comes to digitised commerce.”
“Part of the problem is that we have tried to apply traditional thinking, products, services and solutions to what is a highly complex, fragmented continent that lacks traditional infrastructure to support them.”
For instance, South Africa’s social grants problem is exacerbated, Torre says, by the country’s reliance on a proprietary technology solution.
Interoperability, which enables the participation of multiple role players, is essential and possible, he says. Last April the Payments Association of South Africa announced that it had released a fully interoperable specification to facilitate biometric authentication on payment cards – apparently the first in the world. This was done in partnership with Mastercard and Visa, and the specification enables a range of biometric solutions, from fingerprint verification to palm, voice, iris, or facial biometrics.
“Africa is poised to benefit from digitised commerce if the industry can harness the power of mobile devices,” says Torre. “Mobile can be the key in unlocking the products, services and solutions that can take the region to a digital future. The shift from high tech solutions for Africa to low tech (like the QR code) means barriers to entry are being broken down to allow more people to transact.”