Leading African payment card brand, Verve, has been officially launched in Nairobi by Nigerian company Interswitch, giving Kenyans now have even more options when it comes to cashless payments.
This move should cut banks’ costs and challenge the dominant positions of the M-pesa mobile money service as well as MasterCard and Visa.
The cards were launched in Nigeria in 2009 and are used by about 45 per cent of the country’s 30 million cardholders. A further 16m people use its prepaid tokens or mobile payment apps.
The Kenya launch also brought to the fore, a strategic partnership with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) to expand the card’s acceptance and payment services in six key East African markets – Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan, Rwanda and Uganda, where it already has a footprint. Apparently, two other banks have also signed up to use the cards.
Verve’s chief executive, Charles Ifedi, explained that in Nigeria, the fees charged by Verve in Nigeria were between 30 per cent and 50 per cent less than credit cards and customers also saved up to 300 per cent on services such as buying mobile phone airtime.
Interswitch’s bill payment and airtime top up Quickteller platform could have the greatest impact on Safaricom’s M-pesa service which is used by around 70 per cent of the adult population in Kenya.
Kenya’s shift to cashless public transport could also enjoy a boost thanks to the new cards.
The roughly 33 per cent of Kenyan adults without a bank account in Kenya will also be able to use Verve prepaid cards which they will be able to top up at agents.
Interswitch founder and group managing director Mitchell Elegbe, explained that he hoped to work with Safaricom rather than be in competition with the mobile network and they were “more of a catalyst to speed up transactions rather than being involved in them ourselves.”