New global service significantly reduces the complexity and cost to offer mobile financial services to unbanked consumers. Aircel and ICICI Bank in India among the first clients to offer a mobile money program hosted and managed by Visa.

Feb. 13: Visa Inc.  today announced the launch of a new plug-and-play mobile money platform that will make it easy and cost-efficient for financial institutions and mobile operators to offer mobile financial services to consumers. The global platform is the world’s first bank-grade managed service for mobile money – meaning it allows Visa to host and fully manage all aspects of a mobile money program on behalf of the provider, from user interface design to consumer enrollment, transactions processing, authorization, clearing and settlement. The new service can enable domestic-only or globally interoperable mobile money services.

Unbanked consumers in India and Rwanda are the first to benefit from the service. Aircel mobile subscribers in India and customers of Bank of Kigali and Urwego Opportunity Bank in Rwanda now have access to a financial account that is linked to their mobile phone number. From cash-in and -out transactions at agent locations, to paying bills, sending money to relatives, topping-up air time and buying train tickets, consumers can take advantage of bank-grade financial services and Visa-quality payments.

“We applaud the pioneers in Africa, Asia and the Middle East who have launched closed-loop mobile financial services and reached so many consumers so quickly,” said Bill Gajda, Head of Global Mobile Products for Visa Inc. “As demand grows, so does the cost and complexity to maintain these services. Visa’s new mobile money platform is designed to allow mobile operators and financial institutions to focus on their core business, while leaving the management of their mobile money service to Visa.”

The new platform, which is being hosted in Visa managed data centers, is built on Fundamo’s technology, the mobile money technology acquired by Visa in 2011, which has been successfully deployed in more than 30 countries.

“Aircel prides itself in offering its subscribers the most innovative mobile applications that meet the unique needs of consumers in India,” said Geoff King, Head of Mobile Banking, Aircel. “Through the Visa hosted and managed service, Aircel is now able to partner with local banks to offer our mobile subscribers access to money services that will simplify their financial lives. We begin with our partnership with ICICI to offer customers the ability to send cash across the country securely, to top up their prepaid mobile accounts, and pay their utility bills.”

Designed and tailored for use by financial institutions and mobile operators

Visa’s new platform is designed to comply with the regulatory frameworks established for mobile financial services. It offers mobile network operators and financial institutions a local connection to Visa’s global payment network, VisaNet, and a one-stop solution for providing mobile money services that are based on Visa’s high standards of security, reliability and interoperability. Through the new platform, Visa can manage all aspects of a mobile money service, including:

  • Mobile Money Program Management – Visa, on behalf of the mobile money service provider, can manage the customer enrollment and mobile wallet user interface, fees, commissions and taxes, as well as apply risk management tools, reporting capabilities, and other “on-behalf-of” services. This reduces implementation costs and resources required to deploy mobile money services.
  • Support for any Mobile Channel – Mobile money service providers can use industry standard interfaces to connect to Visa’s new platform, and can send mobile money transactions across all mobile channels including USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data), xHTML (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language), and IVR (Interactive Voice Response).
  • Support for a Comprehensive Set of Transactions - The platform enables financial transactions in both closed-loop and open-loop environments, including cash-in and -out transactions at agent locations and ATMs, domestic and international money transfers, payments at merchants where Visa is accepted, as well as bill payments and air-time top up. It also supports informational transactions such as bulk registration, balance inquiries, PIN and account management.
  • Customer Support and Regulatory Compliance – Visa’s Mobile Managed Service can support compliance with mobile and financial regulatory requirements in different countries. In addition, the platform can offer comprehensive customer support capabilities including monitoring and maintenance of connections to host systems, disaster recovery, incident management, as well as customer response management and account management (AML and KYC) workflows.
  • Visa-quality Payment Security – The platform combines Visa’s advanced risk processing technology with the security and authentication features of mobile devices, allowing the mobile money service provider to offer financial transactions that are based on Visa’s high standards for transaction security, reliability and interoperability.

While financial institutions and mobile network operators in India and Rwanda are the first to offer mobile financial services based on Visa’s new managed service, the platform is capable of hosting and managing programs worldwide.

Press Release: VISA