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Visa opens its first African innovation Studio in Kenya

Global payments company Visa has opened a new Innovation Studio in Nairobi, Kenya.

The studio was officially opened by the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, Dr Patrick Njoroge on April 6, at an event attended by leading banks, financial technology companies and innovation specialists from across Sub-Saharan Africa.

This facility will serve the sub-Saharan Africa region and joins a network of innovation centres operated by Visa since 2016, in cities including London, Dubai and Singapore. The Nairobi studio is the first in Africa and sixth globally, according to TechCabal.

The new facility supports Visa’s commitment to promoting innovation and creating opportunities for clients and fintech partners to co-create market-relevant payment and commerce solutions throughout the region.

Aida Diarra, Senior vice president and head of Visa in Sub-Saharan Africa, said the studio will assist in increasing the Visa market in the region by issuing digital and physical Visa to its clients.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is a fast-growing region with a tech-savvy population and as we continue to grow digital payments adoption in the region, our aspiration is to deepen our collaboration with clients and partners in developing solutions that are designed around the unique needs of Africa,” said Diarra.

“As a brand built on technology, Visa has driven the major technology advancements that make electronic payments what they are today. We are confident that the innovation studio will continue that legacy and cement Sub-Saharan Africa’s position as a leader in creating out-of-the-box solutions to deal with our most pressing challenges as a region.”

Visa has previously used its existing innovation hubs to design products for the African market, including a collaboration with Nigerian Fintech Paga to develop new merchant acceptance solutions involving QR codes and NFC technology.

Last year, Visa partnered with Kenya’s largest telco Safaricom to allow M-Pesa’s 24 million users and 173,000 local merchants to be linked to Visa’s 61 million merchants and its more than 3 billion cards.

Across Africa, local and multinational corporations, as well as governments, have been launching innovation centres as a means to develop new products through collaborations and to remain globally competitive. Last month, Microsoft launched a new office for its African Development Centre in Lagos, it’ll house the company’s product engineering, ecosystem development and innovation teams. In 2021, Huawei also announced its intention to build an innovation and research centre in Tunisia.

In Kenya, organisations such as Cisco and Philips also run similar innovation studios in Nairobi, while the Kenyan government is building a technology city, Konza City, to drive innovation in the country.

The launch of Visa’s first African innovation studio and others serves as a boost to the African tech ecosystem as it’ll encourage the creation, development, and implementation of novel ideas.

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