Cote d’Ivorie, Visa Sign MoU on Digital Payments

The Ivorian government, on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Visa, to digitize government services and ensure financial services are accessible to more Africans.

Adama Koné, the country’s Minister of Finance and Economy and Andrew Torre, Visa’s Regional President for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) signed the agreement in Abidjan, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Commerce President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) fact-finding mission.

A statement quoted Torre as saying during the signing ceremony that the MOU “represents an important milestone in our ongoing cooperation with the Ivorian government. It is a major step forward in our effort to bring more Ivorians into the formal financial system with all the associated benefits.

“Our shared vision for enhancing the quality of services and employing the latest payment technologies makes this partnership a great opportunity for Ivorians, the financial services industry, merchants and the government alike. The use of electronic payments will bring greater payment security and convenience to Ivorian families, while lowering costs and bringing increased transparency to the financial system,” he assured.

Visa becomes the first global payments provider to open an office in the region and is working closely with local governments, financial institutions and merchants across UEMOA, CEMAC & the entire Western & Central Africa area to bring the benefits of innovative electronic payments to the region, including its security, mobile and consulting capabilities.

Koné added: “We consider this MOU a breakthrough in our greater plans for the development of Cote D’Ivoire by 2020. It reflects the government’s resolve to address the challenges and improve the lives of Ivorians by collaborating with companies like Visa. It is a testament that we are seeking international standards when it comes to the services offered to our citizens.”

According the terms of the agreement, the Ivorian government will work with Visa to review current financial services programmes in the country and create informed action plans to aid adoption of electronic payments.

As part of the deal, Visa says it is committed to rolling its Visa Mobile push payments for over 1.1 million cocoa, coffee and cashew nuts farmers whose work amounts to 20% of Cote D’Ivoire’s GDP.

This will enable the farmers, for the first time, make and accept digital payment on their mobile device and transfer funds directly from bank account to bank account, just as they can apply for the credit and loans they need to help grow their businesses, by being connected to a bank via an app.

It will also enable around 35,000 transit vehicles accept mobile payments, helping the transport sector flow more efficiently by minimizing queues and ensuring the payment of all journeys

Visa will also work with Cote d’Ivoire’s government to assess and develop government prepaid solutions for student scholarships and government employees’ salaries and travel expenses, in addition to partnering government’s over 200 post offices to digitize aid. In the process, it would support the elderly and less privileged, while helping people pay digitally for their utilities and government services bills as part of the “House of Citizen” programme of the Cote d’Ivoire Post Office

The company will equally partner government to assess the potential for a pilot financial education programme for government employees and departments, and evaluate the introduction of financial education into the national curriculum in schools.

It will equally “evaluate enabling cardholder authentication via mobile app or sms, using a National ID database with a Unique National Identification number for each of the 23.7 million Ivorians to provide them with faster access to services, and connect them to the formal financial system.”

Commenting further on the deal, Torre assured that the “investments are real and meaningful, and they will have far greater reach and impact than only in Cote D’Ivoire, as they will serve as a model for the rest of the UEMOA region. We believe that access to a world class, global and secure payments network is essential for sustained economic growth. It supports retail sector growth, encourages travel and tourism, and enables us to invest in new technologies to support consumer inclusion. We are excited about the partnership and eager to get moving.”