VISA’s Regional President for the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) region, Andrew Torre, arrived in Sudan last Monday on a two day historical visit.
Khartoum: AlTaghyeer: Interview
Mr. Torre, who oversees all VISA operations in more than 90 countries across the CEMEA region, was received with a gala dinner at Khartoum’s Corinthia hotel, in celebration of his symbolic visit, Sudan’s reintegration into the global economy, and both VISA and the UCB’s endeavors aimed at ushering Sudan into the cashless, digital era.
The industry vet spoke to AlTaghyeer about the purposes of his landmark visit, helping Sudan in going cashless, and VISA’s commitment to safety and security.
*What are the purposes of your visit to Sudan?
Earlier this year, together with our partner United Capital Bank (UCB), we issued the first Visa cards, which was a major milestone and was hailed by Sudanese Prime Minister, Dr. Abdalla Hamdok, as a symbol of the country’s long-awaited reintegration into the global economy.
And now, on this important visit to Sudan, I look forward to meeting with several major financial institutions and senior government officials to explore opportunities for close cooperation and to advance the adoption of digital payments in the country.
This is directly in line with our commitment to Sudan, where we aim to work closely as a partner for the Sudanese government and financial institutions to advance digital payments. This will allow the people of Sudan gain wider access to a reliable, convenient and secure payment option and drive financial inclusion – all of which are important for Sudan’s economic growth and development.
As we have seen globally, going cashless is a global trend and demand for digital forms of payments including tap-to-pay or online retail is rapidly increasing. Even over the last year, we have seen a significant surge in consumer demand for digital or cashless solutions around the world, driven by the need to have safe and convenient ways to pay.
We are pleased to be exploring further opportunities to work with partners in Sudan to expand the access to digital payments, and financial services more broadly.
*According to the data you’ve gathered, would you say that the Sudanese banking system is qualified and up-to-date to utilize Visa’s financial services?
At Visa, we believe in working step by step to enable and empower banks to leverage the endless possibilities of digital payments. We are already actively working with eight financial institutions in Sudan, and the launch of the first Sudanese Visa card with United Capital Bank (UCB) earlier this year is clear evidence of local interest from both the industry and consumers in being part of a global payments network.
To develop the broader financial ecosystem, contribute to the government’s economic reform agenda, drive the adoption of digital payments, and strengthen consumer education and financial inclusion efforts, we rely on the support of our bank partners – and that is why partnerships are very important to us.
We are looking forward to further strengthening partnerships we have in place and establishing new collaborations so that more companies – from financial services companies to mobile operators and telecoms firms, can enjoy the benefits that digital payments bring.
*Will Visa operate through local bank agents or will there be other agents?
Yes, we are in constant constructive dialogue with key local banks/financial institutions, government agencies and other economic stakeholders to see how new partnerships can be forged to build a trusted payments ecosystem in Sudan that will drive digital payments adoption, which in turn will help solidify the country’s economic expansion and development efforts.
As mentioned earlier, we are already actively working with eight financial institutions in Sudan, in addition to our existing partnership with United Capital Bank (UCB). We hope to build more close local partnerships with both traditional and emerging players in Sudan so that they can leverage the resources of our platform to scale and grow their businesses faster and more effectively. This type of partnership approach creates a more inclusive ecosystem with products that can reach the under-banked and unbanked segments of the population.
*What services can the company provide for the Sudanese market?
As the global leader in digital payments, Visa’s mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payments network – so individuals, businesses and economies can thrive. Visa is more than a credit card and is understood to be the trusted engine of commerce that provides access to the global economy for everyone, everywhere.
We facilitate commerce in more than 200 countries and territories among a global group of consumers, merchants, financial institutions, businesses, strategic partners and government entities through innovative technologies.
Visa has been providing electronic payments to businesses and consumers for decades and continues to invest in improving convenience, reliability, security and value. The technology behind Visa is our global network: VisaNet, which enables a full range of domestic transaction processing services and provides governments, central banks, domestic financial institutions and merchants with an instant connection to the global economy.
*Has the company ran preliminary checks on market indicators and how receptive the Sudanese public would be to the visa system?
Going cashless is a global trend which has only been accelerated by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The convenience, security and reliability of digital payments offers consumers a strong alternative to cash and from our experience globally, we have seen that when consumers are given the option to pay digitally, they are receptive, especially if they’ve had positive experiences.
We also look at a number of other indicators which inform readiness for digital payments, and we believe that with a young and growing population, and continued strengthening economy, that consumers, merchants and all stakeholders would benefit from the security and ease digital payments bring. Digital payments enable consumers safer and more convenient ways to pay, businesses to drive growth and profits, help governments reduce crime, raise tax receipts, and deliver public services more efficiently.
As consumers in Sudan and globally begin to pay for more goods and services online or with digital payment options, we at Visa are committed to ensure they’re doing so safely by leveraging our best practices and experiences in maintaining the highest levels of security.
*Would your company be interested in organizing training courses for those interested in banking services?
As a payments technology network, Visa offers a range of product platforms, which our financial institution clients (banks) use to deliver credit, debit, prepaid and commercial programs to their customers. While Visa does not offer banking services, we provide training courses to our Visa partners and clients to capture the opportunity that exists.
*Cardholders may have worries pertaining to electronic piracy. How well adapted are the Visa company’s systems in ensuring safe and reliable transaction services for its customer base?
Security underpins everything we do at Visa. We work with our partners globally to promote transparency and improved information sharing regarding threats, vulnerabilities, and controls between government and private industry, between government agencies, and between the governments of different nations.
Moving from cash to digital can provide enormous direct advantages to consumers, businesses, and governments. Digital payments enable consumers safer and more convenient ways to pay, businesses to drive growth and profits, help governments reduce crime, raise tax receipts, and deliver public services more efficiently.
As customers in Sudan and globally begin to pay for more goods and services online or with digital payment options, we at Visa are committed to ensure they’re doing so safely by leveraging our best practices and experiences in maintaining the highest levels of security.
Our experience in keeping global fraud rates at historic lows—less than 0.1 percent—through a multi-layered approach of investing in human intelligence and technology like A.I.; empowering consumers and clients with tools, resources and control to manage risk; and setting governance processes to help businesses and regulators stay nimble is crucial to our work in Sudan.
In addition, Visa’s customers (banks and merchants) benefit from a number of other security features that help prevent and disrupt payment fraud (ATM cashouts, cybercrime threats, eCommerce, etc.) These are available to them at no additional cost or sign-up as part of Visa’s continued investment in intelligence and technology.
Consumers identified Visa as the most trusted company to provide financial services or payments among all payment networks and we believe it is due to Visa’s unrelenting focus on eliminating fraud and protecting the payment ecosystem and we are committed to translating our global experience to help in the development of Sudan’s cashless journey.