Money movement expectations are changing and Visa Direct can help

By Shahebaz Khan, SVP, Head of Commercial and Money Movement Solutions, Visa CEMEA, 08/15/2023

In our increasingly connected world, expectations around money movement are changing rapidly. In the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) region, evolving regulatory priorities, a high concentration of foreign workers, and a modernizing economy combine to create a market in which access to next-generation money movement solutions could help meet consumers’ needs. By offering fast payments, mobile-first money management, and affordable remittances, Visa Direct is well-positioned to serve this dynamic market.

The need for innovative payment solutions

The broad set of consumer demands in the CEMEA region highlights the need for innovative payment solutions. An influencer living in Dubai and working with a corporate partner in the United States needs payments sent straight to her debit card to cover travel expenses. A Pakistani taxi driver can’t wait until the end of the month to start accessing his earned wages. A Saudi family with a son studying in Paris needs fast, reliable cross-border payments to be sure that he can pay for his tuition, groceries, and meals out with friends. A British expat working in Doha needs to be confident that he’s getting the best exchange rate when he converts riyals to pounds to fund his savings account back home.¹ Faster payments are crucially important to the health of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the region too: 69% of merchants in CEMEA would be interested in a faster payments solution that provides instant transfers and real-time notifications.²

The CEMEA region has several characteristics that make it a prime market for new digital payment solutions. Contactless card payments make up nearly 90% of face-to-face transactions in CEMEA, a shift away from cash that can provide greater visibility over purchases and an indicator that consumers are comfortable with digital payments.³ In Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, digital apps are the most popular method of sending money for 69% and 65% of consumers, respectively.⁴ These two countries are also home to two of the world’s highest-volume remittance corridors, and 60–70% of remitters there use apps and digital payments to facilitate money movement.⁵

New methods of money movement have also been important in CEMEA during periods of political uncertainty. During wartime, when traditional banking routes are disrupted, alternative money transfer methods become crucial. Digital transfers made using mobile phones have been pivotal to maintaining the flow of money across borders in Central Europe since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict, and Visa Direct’s digital payment solutions have helped provide financial continuity when political winds change.

How Visa Direct can meet evolving payment needs

Visa Direct is poised to serve CEMEA’s international, digital-first consumer base. Our commitment to continue enhancing Visa Direct’s 60+ use cases, and developing more like them, means we’ll be ready when their needs evolve. Visa’s 60-year legacy as a global payment network has made us a leader in the payments industry, and in that role, we believe it is our responsibility to develop solutions that elevate our clients’ digital payment capabilities and help them meet changing money movement demands.

Visa Direct already provides access to nearly 7 billion endpoints in over 190 markets with payouts in more than 160 currencies, which create numerous opportunities in money movement. In order to evolve and respond to today’s dynamic money movement expectations, payment providers can benefit from enabling fast, global, digital payment solutions like Visa Direct.

Visa Direct can help global digital payment providers deliver better customer experiences and serve more use cases. With Visa Direct, an employer can provide gig workers or salaried staff with access to fast, flexible payout options to eligible debit cards, bank accounts, or wallets.⁶ A marketplace can give sellers control over their cash flow with real-time⁷ settlements and payouts. A merchant can provide instant⁸ refunds to eligible debit cards. And a money transfer organization (MTO) can enable users to send fast domestic and international transfers via Alias Directory, simply by using the recipient’s phone number or e-mail address.⁹

Visa Direct can also help streamline money movement in markets where mobile wallets, rather than bank accounts, are the hubs for payment activity. In these markets, closed-loop systems can slow or halt payment flows. Visa Direct can enable interoperability of these networks, bringing flexibility and scale to financial institutions and broadening the reach of customers who operate in country-specific financial market infrastructures (FMIs) by enabling access to more countries and more endpoints. Visa Direct’s global digital payment partners also benefit from our value-added services (VAS) expertise—including risk management, tokenisation, and account pre-validation tools—that can help address some of the limitations in domestic FMIs.

As a critical part of Visa’s Commercial & Money Movement Solutions (CMS) strategy, Visa Direct is helping enable broader money movement flows among individuals, businesses, and governments.

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