Global payment services company Visa has entered into a formal agreement with the government of the Ivory Coast to digitise government services and extend financial services in the country.
According to information in a joint statement released to the media, Visa is the first global payments provider to open an office in the region.
The deal means that the Ivorian government will work with Visa to review current financial services programs in the country and create informed action plans to aid adoption of electronic payments.
Visa is said to have made six commitments, including to roll out Visa Mobile push payments for over 1.1 million cocoa, coffee and cashew nuts farmers whose work amounts to 20% of Cote D'Ivoire's GDP.
These farmers will be able to make and accept digital payment on their mobile device and transfer funds directly between bank accounts.
"And by being connected to a bank via an app, they will be able to apply for the credit and loans they need to help grow their businesses," Visa adds.
Both parties have also agreed to enable around 35,000 transit vehicles to accept mobile payments, as well as to work with government officials to assess and develop government prepaid solutions for student scholarships and government employees' salaries and travel expenses.
They will also assess the potential for a pilot financial education program for government employees and departments, and evaluate enabling cardholder authentication via mobile app or SMS, using a national ID database with a Unique National Identification number for each of the 23.7 million Ivorians to provide them with faster access to services, and connect them to the formal financial system.
Adama Koné, the Minister of Finance and Economy and Andrew Torre, Visa's Regional President for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) signed the MOU, at a ceremony held in Abidjan, in conjunction with the US Department of Commerce President's Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) fact-finding mission.
Torre said: "This MOU signing represents an important milestone in our ongoing cooperation with the Ivorian government. It is a major step forward in our effort to bring more Ivorians into the formal financial system with all the associated benefits. Our shared vision for enhancing the quality of services and employing the latest payment technologies makes this partnership a great opportunity for Ivorians, the financial services industry, merchants and the government alike. The use of electronic payments will bring greater payment security and convenience to Ivorian families, while lowering costs and bringing increased transparency to the financial system."
Koné said: "We consider this MOU a breakthrough in our greater plans for the development of Cote D'Ivoire by 2020. It reflects the government's resolve to address the challenges and improve the lives of Ivorians by collaborating with companies like Visa. It is a testament that we are seeking international standards when it comes to the services offered to our citizens."