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john-conlon-visa

Visa sees major competition as cash, not fintech startups, says digital director

With cash making up 94% of financial transactions in Africa there is a plenty of opportunity for the fintech sector on the continent — says John Conlon, digital director at Visa Performance Solutions for Central Europe, Middle East and Africa.

“The key message is partnering with fintech (startups). Open platforms and partnerships is the way forward,” said Conlon (pictured above).

Speaking to Ventureburn on the sidelines of the Visa Merchant Forum that took place yesterday in Cape Town, Conlon said Visa has created over 100 application programming interfaces (APIs) which fintechs could access. An API is a tool that allows developers to access the IT infrastructure of a financial sector provider.

He said Visa is also looking to develop the “payment landscape of the future” and pointed to the company’s investment two years ago in Chain. The startup developed open-source software, which uses the Blockchain and enables businesses to build better financial services from the ground up.

Main challenge African fintech is facing is around adoption and getting the solutions to market

He estimated that there are over 230 fintech startups operating across Africa with between 95 to a 100 in South Africa, 70 in Nigeria and 50 in Kenya. He said the main challenge for fintech startups is getting their solutions to adopted by the market.

Visa is working with several African partners through its network of global innovation centres. While some South African partners have used Visa’s Berlin innovation centre, a leading Kenyan bank recently used Visa’s Dubai Innovation Centre to improve its on-boarding of merchants and to help customers adapt to tech in a four-day co-creation exercise.

Visa’s UAE incubator programme uses a fintech hive aimed at assisting startups through mentorship and training on best practices. Conlon said 12 startups have taken part in the hive so far.

He said Visa also aims to assist startups access markets by connecting them with the company’s partners as well, and providing training on European regulation. Startups that are able to abide by European regulations are then likely to be able to operate in almost any other jurisdiction, he added.

Featured image: Jonh Conlon digital director at Visa Performance Solutions for Central Europe, Middle East and Africa speaking at the Visa Merchant Forum in Cape Town yesterday (Supplied)