Global digital payments giant Visa has opened up an innovation studio in Kenya, its first in Africa and sixth globally, after posts in Dubai, London, Miami, San Francisco and Singapore.

The studio will bring together developers, Visa’s internal and external clients, and other partners to co-create payment and commerce solutions.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is a fast-growing region with a tech-savvy population. 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 senior vice president & head of Visa in Sub-Saharan Africa, Aida 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,” said Diarra.

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.

Also fostered in Visa’s other innovation labs was a recent partnership with Kenya’s Safaricom allowing the telco’s 150,000 mobile money (M-Pesa) merchants to accept card payments.

Across Africa, both local and multinational corporations, as well as governments, are taking cue to launch such innovation centers as a means to developing new products through collaborations and to remain globally competitive.

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

Meanwhile, numerous innovation hubs have opened up in Africa’s startup capital, Nigeria, with concentration around Lagos, the country’s cultural and commercial center, and home to the continent’s greats like tech-jobs network Andela, payments company Flutterwave and e-commerce platform Jumia.



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