Visa’s innovation studio in Kenya to offer virtual cards for local banks and fintechs

A couple of weeks ago, digital payments leader Visa opened its first African Innovation Studio in Kenya. 

The new studio has been designed to support Visa partners in the region with access to develop solutions that strengthen their capabilities to develop fintech products. This studio came at the right time when the demand for fintech solutions continues to grow, partly driven by the pandemic. 

With the Innovation Studio, Visa says it wants to support its commitment to promoting innovation and creating opportunities for clients and fintech partners to co-create market-relevant payment and commerce solutions throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

One of the products the company will be offering and working on at the studio is Merchant solutions, a virtual card that can be used by merchants to accept digital payments at their shops/stores. 

Other than accepting payments, the virtual card which is connected to a bank can also enable merchants to request a loan based on their transactions. One can also be able to create digital wallets that one can use to pay their employees all at the touch of a button.

“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 Aida Diarra, Senior Vice President & Head of Visa in Sub-Saharan Africa said during the launch.

Research shows that the pandemic increased the likelihood of individuals transacting via the internet, mobile bank accounts, and ATMs. There is also a growing range of use cases of virtual cards across large and middle-market businesses. 

Virtual cards are helping to facilitate payments on invoices using a simple and intuitive payment process. With this approach, SMEin Africa could use a virtual card to simply log in, upload the relevant supplier information and credentials, and then send over a remittance notification to go ahead and make the payment. The efficiency of this process can help businesses manage their cash flow.

The virtual card is ready for use and all local banks and fintechs need to do is reach out to the studio and collaborate with Visa to roll it out to the market. Like the more mainstream Visa applications, these virtual cards not only facilitate fast payments and support convenience but also help drive up visibility and control of payments for large businesses and enable more efficient reconciliation.

Important to also note that ​​the Visa Innovation studio will serve the sub-Saharan Africa region and joins a network of innovation centres operated by Visa since 2016, in cities including Dubai, Singapore and San Francisco.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to

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