Visa Inc.’s mobile payments app, mVisa, has gone live in Kenya, where four local banks are supporting the QR code-based service.

The move is part of a broader push by Visa to extend mVisa into other regions of Africa after introducing the service last year in India. Earlier this year Visa said it would soon roll out mVisa in Nigeria, and it will also be available in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda before the end of the year, Visa said in a Sept. 13 press release.

In Kenya, Visa is going up against an entrenched existing mobile payments service, M-Pesa, which launched in 2007 via local wireless operator Safaricom, targeting unbanked consumers. M-Pesa now reaches 11 nations via Vodafone, which owns 40% of Safaricom and manages its operations.

But Visa sees big opportunity in Kenya, where more than 38 million consumers have mobile handsets and more than 80% of transactions are still conducted in cash.

KCB Group Ltd. and Co-Operative Bank of Kenya, Family Bank and NIC Bank are initially offering mVisa to customers, who may use the app to send funds via the Visa network to other individuals and to pay at hundreds of participating local merchants.

Consumers with the mVisa app can pay at merchants by scanning a QR code on a smartphone or by entering a merchant number into a basic mobile handset. Payments move instantly from a customer’s bank account, and a text notification confirms each transaction, Visa said in the release.

“The new service will enable (customers) to send and receive funds from other Visa account holders worldwide as well as withdraw and deposit cash to and from their account at mVisa agent outlets,” said David Thuku, CEO of Family Bank, in the release.

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the payments industry

14-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the industry