Targeting the vast unbanked market in developing countries, Visa has launched a pre-paid account that can be accessed through mobile phones.
The ubiquity of mobile phones in developing countries has led to a proliferation of handset-based financial services, with over 100 programmes currently up and running, according to the GSMA.
Visa says its new product - based on technology from recently acquired specialist vendor Fundamo - will boost the security, scale and interoperability of these offerings by connecting them with its VisaNet network and opening up the various closed-loop systems.
Account holders will be able to send funds to each other, send and receive international remittances, make purchases at merchants or online where Visa is accepted or withdraw funds at ATMs.
Telco MTN Group, which claims 5.7 registered customers for its mobile money service in Africa and the Middle East, has already agreed to offer the new Visa product to its customers, starting in Nigeria and Uganda.
Meanwhile, the card giant says it is working with various other mobile network operators, financial institutions, governments and NGOs to bring the service to people across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Jim McCarthy, head, product, Visa, says: "Reaching consumers who have previously lacked access to formal financial services with secure and reliable electronic payments is finally a reality. Mobile technology has become the single most important driver of financial inclusion that is enabling financial institutions, mobile network operators and Visa to connect unbanked consumers to each other and the global economy."