When one hears of Visa, what comes to mind is debit/credit cards and banks. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that they had launched an innovation studio. Apparently the one in the country is the 6th with others located in Dubai, Miami, San Francisco and Singapore. Previously, innovations for Middle East and Africa were being done in Dubai.
I have to say that moving forward, we can count ourselves lucky as the studio will now deal with innovations for Sub-Saharan Africa. I believe we are lucky because this particular studio will be able to understand the intricacies and nuances of the of the African continent and thereby be able to innovate so as to solve the specific problems facing us. This is because Africa is a unique continent with unique challenges that only those who live here would be able to understand and work towards solving the same as opposed to importing a solution from somewhere else.
The Visa Innovation Studio works by allowing customers and partners to be able to come and collaborate with the developers in Visa to launch various financial products/solutions. Essentially, the guys at Visa already have the products ready all that a bank/fintech/MNO needs to do is get into the space and work with their people to customize the solution to suit their needs. This sounds surprisingly easy, and it actually is, more so because they are not discriminating on who they can partner with.
Basically, if you feel that you have a good financial product/solution that you feel can work to solve a
challenge in your environment, just pay a visit to the studio. A good example of one of the products that
has been launched after such a collaboration is Apple Pay.
When you visit the studio, they have a couple of solutions on display which really piqued my interest,
During the pandemic, people had to work from and shop from home. As such, one needed to be
connected to the internet in order to be able to do all the things that one had previously needed to step
out of the house to do. This includes shopping for groceries, having meetings, even meetups with
The Visa connected home enables one to get into the metaverse to be able to do various things
including shopping and paying, concert tickets and even NFTs.
Virtual Debit Card
The studio has a virtual debit card solution that allows one to connect to an existing bank account as
well as a mobile wallet all at the touch of a button. The solution allows one to pick a persona based on
what one likes to do say travelling, this allows Visa to give you offers based on your taste and preferences. The virtual debit card can be added to an Apple wallet or can be used at any other participating store. The card can enable one to buy plane tickets, insurance among other things.
In as much as we all know that cash is king, digital payments make our life much easier as it eliminates
the need to move around with cash all the time. When it comes to mobility, Visa enables anyone who
has their virtual card solution to just scan a QR code in the bus/taxi for them to be able to pay instantly.
This eliminates the need to have ready cash to pay for your fare. In my opinion, this can come in handy
for some of the operators like BasiGo, SWVL and long-distance buses. This solution is in use in over 450
cities across the world.
Another futuristic solution under mobility is a connected car, this one enables you to say book for fuel, a
car wash and even order groceries to be delivered to your home while on the move. Apparently in Dubai
where this solution is in use, one can order for fuel, thereafter, park your car in a mall and someone with
a mobile petrol station can come and fill it up! How about that??
Mall Of The Future
When one uses the virtual debit card solution, a merchant will be able to see what you normally shop
for instantly and will therefore be able to give you offers suited to you. This is as opposed to the current
setting where once you make a payment, the merchant is not able to get the data that can inform them
of your tastes and preferences.
In this mall, one will also be able to try on clothes without putting them on physically. This will be by
scanning the QR code and viewing on a screen how the clothes/shoes look on you before making the
purchase. This would have come in handy at the height of the pandemic where people were afraid of
The virtual card solution can also be used by merchants to be able to accept digital payments at their
shops/stores. Other than accepting payments, the solution which is connected to a bank can enable one
to request for a loan based on his transactions. One can also be able to create digital wallets that one
can use to pay their employees all at the touch of a button.
All these solutions are ready for use and all it requires is for a bank/fintech to reach out to the studio
and start collaborating to bring the products to market. By partnering with the studio one is assured of
working with the best in the market as well as a shorter turnaround time.