Sponsored Content by Visa Everywhere Initiative

How Visa’s commitment to startups and fintech drives inclusion and access for everyone

By Alex McCrea, Vice President and Head of Strategic Partnerships and Ventures for Visa Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa

Visa Everywhere Initiative expands the reach of Fintech in a reshaped financial landscape

Fintechs and startups have emerged from the pandemic as leaders in the economic recovery, providing convenient platforms to buy and sell goods and services, and more importantly, send and receive money. Their success in securing real-time, simplified, and secure movement of money across Central Europe, Middle East, and Africa (CEMEA) empowers growth and boosts the digital payment ecosystem. 

Fintechs can only meet consumers’ demands by gaining and expanding access to a comprehensive network of companies, clients, service providers and more. So, what can be done to help up-and-coming startups, as well as more established Fintech companies so we can all enjoy the benefits?

Programs such as the Visa Fintech Fast-track and the Visa Developer represent effective ways to solidify growth trajectory, boost exposure and continue to tap into ever expanding customer demand. With more than $500,000 in total prize funding, the annual Visa Everywhere Initiative program unlocks opportunities and supercharges success for CEMEA’s most promising Fintechs and startups. 

New normal for payment models

Fintech has not only helped to digitally onboard more customers, but also respond to rising demand for new payment mechanisms, such as Buy Now Pay Later, Tap to Phone and real time payments. With Visa Direct for example, Visa’s real-time money movement platform, Fintechs are enabling their customers to send and receive money to billions of endpoints worldwide, in any of 160 transaction currencies. 

Broad accessibility, ease of use and lower costs have fueled the growth of these payment innovations across the world in recent years. 

A case for crypto

Ever since Bitcoin was released in 2009, applications for cryptocurrency, and blockchain in general, have expanded greatly. So have the opportunities for crypto to change the digital payments landscape. 

Consumers’ awareness of cryptocurrencies continues to rise, hitting 84%in the UAE. In South Africa, a Visa survey titled “The Crypto Phenomenon: Consumer Attitudes and Usage” reveals that 44% of South Africans are either active or passive owners of crypto

2021 was a watershed moment for cryptocurrencies when the sector’s market capitalization grew by 187.5%. In 2022, sales of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) reached $37 billion worldwide almost exceeding the total amount in all of 2021. 

Former professional athlete and artist Micah Johnson, who made his first NFT sale in 2020 with the help of the Visa Creator’s Program, has mentioned that “NFTs unlocked an opportunity for me to build a community of people interested in supporting my work…[and] with guidance from the early crypto community, I’ve been able to build a small business around my crypto-native character, Aku, that can grow into a global media company rooted in driving value back to that same community that evangelized my work.” 

Increasingly, cryptocurrency-linked startups are seeking to gain an extra push by engaging with trusted financial operators.  The Visa Everywhere Initiative and the Visa Fintech Partner Connect are two programs designed to help connect these startups with traditional banks and institutions. Many of these establishments are eager to explore Fintech opportunities but lack on-the-ground experience or knowledge. They resolve to look for curated partners that can provide emerging technologies to complement their digital innovation efforts.

Enabling access though innovation in digital payments

With 1.8 billion people worldwide without access to digital financial services, including 700 million individuals and 60 million merchants across the CEMEA region, the Visa Everywhere Initiative is looking for Fintech that can offer innovative payment and commerce solutions to tackle the challenge of access and financial inclusion. These include but are not limited to: Enablers of digital services, digital issuance, Value-add for merchants and/or consumers in the space of finance and small/medium-sized business solutions. This year, the initiative has expanded to showcase startups using cryptocurrency and Visa Direct, Visa’s real-time money movement platform, in innovative ways.

Fintech access to funding and to the payment ecosystem is also critical. Since its launch in 2015, the program has supported startups from over 100 countries collectively raise more than $16 billion in funding and get access to Visa’s wide network of clients, addressing one of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face in their startup years. 

This year, the CEMEA region had special editions in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the winners will be announced during the finale which will be broadcasted on June 17th, here on TechCrunch. Will your idea be among them?

For more information about the VEI program, visit www.visa.com/everywhereinitiative

More TechCrunch

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck

As part of 2024’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is showing off some updates to Android that should be useful to folks with mobility or vision impairments. Project Gameface allows gamers…

Google expands hands-free and eyes-free interfaces on Android