Card network juggernaut Visa pledged to invest $1 billion in Africa over the next five years in a bid to build its operations on the continent, increase links to businesses and governments there and generally expand its digital payment reach.
In addition to demonstrating “the company’s long-term commitment to Africa’s growth potential,” the investment will boost “digital payments as an entry point for expanding formal financial services for individuals and merchants” on the continent, Visa said in a press release today.
Visa Chairman and CEO Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. announced the San Francisco-based company’s plans at a U.S.-Africa business forum sponsored by the U.S. State Department this week in Washington, D.C.
Visa has had a presence in Africa for years, with key operations in some countries. The latest extension of its investment is part of a promise to foster more technological innovation on the continent and contribute to providing workers with enhanced skills while the company increases its penetration of the vast market.
“Every day, Visa supports digital commerce and money movement in every country across the continent, and Africa remains central to Visa’s long-term growth plans,” Kelly said in the release. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners to advance the financial ecosystem, accelerate digitization and to build resilient, innovative, and inclusive economies that will create shared opportunity and further spur Africa’s digital economy.”
The company’s incoming CEO, Ryan McInerney, recently noted Visa has been operating offices in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya for years, and explained how it’s building a new presence in other countries now, too, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Sudan.
In the release, Visa generally noted its commitment to entrepreneurship and financial inclusion, noting it has supported small business and women-led startups. It also noted that about 500 million people in Africa don’t have access to “formal” financial services; less than half of the adult population have made or received digital payments; and that some 40 million merchants don’t accept digital payments.
Visa has 10 offices across Africa supporting payments in all 54 countries across the continent, the release said.
The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for more comment about the planned investments, including how they would be distributed and what form they would take.