Global payments firm Visa and Atlas Mara Limited that bought two of some of Rwanda’s biggest banks, have signed a commercial partnership to introduce new payment solutions and expand access to electronic payments within the Sub-Saharan Africa region.
Atlas Mara’s banks will be able to leverage already existing Visa payment platforms, such as mVisa and Visa Direct, to provide their customers new ways of transacting that are convenient, and secure, said the two parties in a statement on Thursday.
“Atlas Mara is a driving force for the provision of better, more innovative and reliable financial services to more Africans everywhere,” said Andrew Torre, Group Country Manager, Visa Sub-Saharan Africa. “Our partnership enables Atlas Mara to deploy Visa’s global assets and payment solutions and has the potential to be transformational for commerce, mobile payments and financial inclusion across Africa.”
Last year, Atlas Mara Limited purchased of a majority stake in Banque Populaire de Rwanda (BPR), and merged it with BRD Commercial Bank. BPR, the name of the combined entity, became Rwanda’s second largest bank by assets estimated at more than $325 million. It has the largest distribution of branches.
In 2016, Visa launched mVisa, a new mobile payment service that brings, for the first time in Africa, an interoperable, versatile and secure mobile payment solution, powered by Visa and its partner financial institutions. With mVisa, consumers can directly access their funds in their bank accounts to pay merchants (person-to-merchant or P2M) or individuals (person-to-person or P2P). Because the transaction runs through the Visa network, VisaNet, the consumers and merchants do not need to be customers of the same bank or mobile operator.
Visa Direct provides cardholders the ability to transfer funds seamlessly, quickly and securely over any channel, be it personal computers, mobile phones, local bank branches, or ATMs, and can be funded from many sources (including bank accounts or payment cards).
Chidi Okpala, Chief Digital Officer, Atlas Mara said: “Delivering innovative services to accelerate financial inclusion and more efficiently service our customers is one of our core strategies. Through our partnership with Visa, Atlas Mara will be able to offer a suite of digital and mobile payment solutions for the everyday payments needs of our expanding customer base across Africa.”
Atlas Mara Limited is listed on the London Stock Exchange as a private equity fund – owned by former Barclays Bank executive Bob Diamond and Rwandan-Ugandan entrepreneur Ashish Thakkar.