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Visa Rolling Out Mobile-Phone Card-Swipe Machines Across Africa

Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Visa Inc., the world’s biggest electronic payments network, plans to introduce card-swiping machines that attach to mobile phones next month in Kenya, seeking to grow by recruiting more small-business owners.

The introduction of the devices in Kenya is part of a plan to expand in sub-Saharan Africa and follows a successful pilot carried out in Rwanda since December, Country Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa Jabu Basopo said.

“We have seen a growth in the number of cards,” Basopo told reporters in Nairobi today. “We would like to see the same growth in the payment footprint.”

Kenyan card users grew by 20 percent to six million in 2012 from a year earlier while point-of-sale usage rose to 15 percent from 10 percent, with cash-machine visits making up the rest of the $6 billion transacted last year, he said. Visa’s client banks in East Africa’s biggest economy increased 39 percent to 25, he said.

Safaricom, in which Vodafone Plc owns a 40 percent stake, is the inventor of M-Pesa, the mobile money-transfer system that is used to transact 80 billion shillings ($912.7 million) a month, according to the company. Kenya is the most advanced country for mobile payments, Visa said Feb. 13.

The company plans to have utility bills, government taxes and school fees paid via cards and is targeting small businesses to increase payment points, Basopo said. Users will have to enter personal identification numbers after swiping to prevent fraud, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at eombok@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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