Shortly after announcing its new digital wallet service V.me for developed markets, Visa also made a presence at Mobile Asia Congress in Hong Kong to promote its new prepaid mobile money platform aimed at the under-banked and the unbanked consumers. By utilizing its recently-acquired Fundamo (which currently has more than 10 million mobile payment subscribers), Visa aims to leverage on the vast number of mobile phone users in developing countries -- many of whom are already using local but carrier-bound mobile payment systems -- in order to offer a globally interoperable mobile payment network.

This overlaying platform is said to be more secure, much cheaper and more convenient than the likes of Western Union, especially when you can simply make mobile-to-mobile payments when sending money across countries. Nigeria and Uganda will be the first nations to get a taste of this early next year courtesy of telecommunications provider MTN Group, and eventually more developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America will join the list. Full press release after the break.
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Visa aims at developing countries with new international mobile-to-mobile payment service

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Visa Introduces New Mobile Prepaid Product for Developing Countries

First Visa product enabled by Fundamo, a leading mobile money platform recently acquired by Visa. Enables financial institutions, mobile network operators to offer Visa prepaid accounts on mobile phones to unbanked and under-banked consumers.

Hong Kong, November 16, 2011

Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) today announced a significant step to bringing access to secure financial services and electronic payments to consumers in developing countries by introducing a new product serving the needs of unbanked and under-banked consumers. The new product, a Visa prepaid account that can be accessed through a mobile phone, offers consumers in developing countries a secure, reliable, globally interoperable electronic payment account.

MTN Group, a leading telecommunications provider in Africa and the Middle East, plans to offer the new Visa product to MTN Mobile Money customers across its markets. As part of the launch, the new product will be available to customers in Nigeria and Uganda.

Today, more than one hundred(1) mobile money programs provide consumers in developing countries with basic financial services, with several more being planned by mobile network operators and financial institutions. Visa's new product will enhance the security, scale and interoperability of these mobile money programs, while extending their payment functionality by enabling account holders to send funds to each other, send and receive international remittances, make purchases at merchants or online where Visa is accepted or withdraw funds at a Visa ATM.

"Reaching consumers who have previously lacked access to formal financial services with secure and reliable electronic payments is finally a reality," said Jim McCarthy, head of product for Visa Inc. "Mobile technology has become the single most important driver of financial inclusion that is enabling financial institutions, mobile network operators and Visa to connect unbanked consumers to each other and the global economy."

MTN Mobile Money has been implemented in 12 countries. At 30 September 2011, there were 5.7 million registered mobile money customers.

"The launch of this product with Visa doesn't only enhance our current mobile money offering, but also represents yet another crucial milestone in our journey to bring value-adding services to the growing population of mobile phone users in our markets. And as the appetite for mobile technology grows, MTN is excited to be at the forefront of providing millions of our customers with such important product innovations," said Christian de Faria, MTN Group Chief Commercial Officer.

How It Works
The mobile phone is changing how consumers around the world pay and get paid, and offers financial service providers in developing countries a new, efficient channel to serve the unbanked and under-banked. In the last ten years, 100 million(2) people have been newly 'banked' through mobile services that offer consumers basic financial services that are limited in geographic reach

Visa's recent acquisition of Fundamo, a leading mobile money platform in developing countries, and its integration into Visa, has created the first globally interoperable mobile payment platform that can connect existing mobile money services with Visa's global payment network, VisaNet.

The result is a new Visa product that allows financial service providers and mobile network operators to offer consumers a payment account that provides Visa's high standards of security, reliability and global interoperability, including:

Visa-quality Payment Security – The new product combines Visa's advanced risk processing technology with the security and authentication features of mobile devices, offering consumers in developing countries peace of mind when making purchases. Regardless of transaction size or where consumers make purchases, Visa and the account issuer will be able to authenticate the account holder at the point of transaction by requesting a PIN or password. In addition, Visa's fraud monitoring capabilities can help mitigate and prevent fraud.

Visa Payment Functionality – From international remittances to ecommerce transactions Visa's new product will offer consumers a new payment account that enhances the payment functionality of their existing mobile money service. In markets with Visa acceptance locations, consumers may also have the option to receive a Visa prepaid companion card that can be used at ATMs and merchants where Visa is accepted.

Transaction Authorization, Clearing and Settlement Services – For financial institutions and mobile network operators offering Visa's new mobile prepaid product, Visa will offer a full suite of payment processing and account management services supported by the world's largest payments network, VisaNet.

Developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America are among the first target markets for Visa's new mobile-based prepaid product.

Visa is working closely with financial institutions, mobile network operators, governments and non-governmental organisations in developing countries to extend access to financial services and electronic payments, helping drive economic growth and financial inclusion by migrating cash spend to electronic payments.