- Card network company Visa said it would launch an accelerator program for fintech startups in Africa, according to a company press release on Wednesday.
- The three-month program will provide training and mentorship for up to 40 startups per year, with applications opening in July 2023.
- The accelerator is part of Visa’s 2022 pledge to invest $1 billion in Africa over five years.
San Francisco-based Visa, the largest U.S. credit card network, is advancing its commitment to invest in Africa with the launch of the accelerator. Executive Chairman Alfred F. Kelly Jr. discussed the program on Wednesday at a conference in Morocco, according to the press release.
“Our new Fintech Accelerator will bring expertise, connections, and investment to Africa’s best fintech start-ups,” Kelly said at the conference.
Visa’s program isn’t the first to enter the African startup scene. Y Combinator, a U.S.-based accelerator program, has nurtured at least 294 African companies, including payment firms Wave Mobile Money and Flutterwave, according to Business Insider Africa.
Flutterwave, Africa’s best-known startup, has faced tightening enforcement by national governments over the last year, according to Quartz. This tougher regulatory environment may lead to more challenges for fintech startups.
The fintech accelerator is part of Visa’s effort to invest $1 billion in the continent over five years. The company sponsors a competition for African startups, operates 10 offices across Africa and supports payments in all 54 countries on the continent, according to the press release.
Even before Ryan McInerney became CEO of Visa in February, he’s had his eye on Africa as an opportunity for the card juggernaut.
“There’s about 800 million people in Africa, about 500 million of them are yet to be banked,” McInerney said at a conference last November. “I’d like to think of them as yet to be banked, as opposed to unbanked.”
About 40 million African merchants don’t accept digital payments. And less than half of adults on the continent have made or received a digital payment, according to a 2022 press release by Visa.
Visa did not respond to a request for comment on its plans for the startup accelerator and its broader strategy for Africa.