Visa, Egyptian government cooperate to promote tourism, stimulate e-commerce: MENA General Manager

Hossam Mounir
14 Min Read

The North Africa region witnesses the strongest cooperation between Visa and the region’s governments, especially the Egyptian government, according to Visa’s Middle East and North Africa General Manager, Ihab Ayoub.

In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Ayoub explained that Visa Corporate is cooperating with a number of ministries in Egypt, such as the Ministry of Tourism. Visa signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the ministry to promote tourism coming to Egypt through social media. Visa also cooperates with the Ministry of Communications to stimulate electronic trade.

What are the most prominent aspects of Visa’s strategy regarding Egypt and North Africa?

Our strategy in Egypt and North Africa is similar to the rest of the world; it depends on strengthening the partnership with our financial institution partners in a way that allows us to provide them with maximum support. It’s also based on providing products and solutions that contribute to offering multiple options for electronic payments, that are convenient to our various clients’ categories.

North Africa is also considered one of regions that witness the strongest cooperation between Visa and the region’s governments, particularly the Egyptian government, where we are cooperating with a number of Egyptian ministries. Visa signed a MoU with the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism in order to promote the incoming tourism through social media. We are also cooperating with the Ministry of Communication to stimulate electronic payment.

As for western North Africa, Visa operates intimately with its various partners in order to spread the electronic payment culture, as we use untraditional ways to raise the awareness of young generations. These ways include plays that show the significance of banking accounts, the benefits of saving and the impact of e-payment in facilitating and securing financial transactions.

What are Visa’s most prominent new projects, plans and products during the current year?

The most prominent products that we have launched in North Africa this year were the check-out service from Visa, which is currently available in the UAE.

This service represents a revolution in the e-payment world, as it provides speed and safety for Internet transactions. Visa card holders were allowed to register to benefit from this service through one registration operation.

The information related to this service are securely stored in a safe website affiliated to Visa, where the salesman or the bank that issued the card cannot access them. The username and password are the only information needed to transact with the shopping website operating with the service.

In early 2016, we are planning to inaugurate a Dubai innovation centre, which will allow Visa officials, clients and partners to innovate in order to develop a new generation of commercial applications.

Although the centre will be established in Dubai, it will represent a platform to export innovative products for other countries in the region.

What about the other products and services offered by Visa in the region?

Visa is also working on increasing the use of other products that have been issued in North Africa, such as Visa Buy Way, Visa Explore and the developed Verified by Visa service.

The Buy Wave service is the newest development in NFC payment method, which facilitates the payment operation for the card holders, as it operates without passing the card into the machine. The card holds a chip that allows a device near the sales point to read the chip’s information, while the card holder only has to move the card upside on the sales point to finalise payment.

We are currently working on expanding this service in shops, through targeting new categories such as fast food restaurants, gasoline stations and taxis.

Visa also launched the Visa Explore application on mobile phones in North Africa. The application is a unified website for all the promotions and privileges for card holders, as they find hundreds of promotions on this application.

Moreover, we have launched geographic locating service on mobile devices, which is a solution designed by visa to reduce unnecessary transaction refusal, which usually happens when customers travel outside their residential area.

This service uses the mobile device ‘geolocation’ to compare the transactions locations with the device’s location, which allows the bank to accept transactions more confident when it the locations match. The benefits of this service include safety and convenience, as customers don’t need to notify the bank of their travel plans.

Meanwhile, Visa seeks a full protection against fraud, especially in electronic transactions through Verified by Visa (VbV) service.

This service allows additional security each time Visa credit or debit card is used to make a purchase on internet. This service helps to avoid unauthorised fraudulent use.

VbV’s new updates alert and guide cardholders for further verification of the most serious transactions, as the transactions conducted by Visa cardholders are protected through Visa Advanced Authorization (VAA) and Visa Risk Management (VRM) programmes, which is a dual solution of integrated fraud protection allowing financial institutions that issued the card to detect and suspect fraud and stop it before payment.

We also hope to expand Visa’s token service, that is now available in the US through Apple bay and Samsung bay, to all our consumers in North Africa.

What is your role as a universal corporation in helping countries attain financial education; do you launch awareness-raising campaigns?

Visa invests in many financial literacy programmes worldwide, in order to guide individuals to ways of saving, budgeting and rational spending.

Visa has been developing the financial literacy programme since 1995, and its universal initiatives are being normalised in local financial education by more than 30 countries. Visa has Practical Money Skills, which is an award winning website that targets helping consumers in managing their money in all their life phases.

In the Middle East, the financial literacy programme, My Money Skills is available in Arabic and in English on ( This website covers basic financial elements such as budgeting, saving, banking account managing, online shopping and preventing fraud. This website also helps students of all educational phases to learn the basics of managing their private money, as the website includes materials to follow immediately with the training teacher.

Visa also concludes partnerships with many institutions for financial literacy activities, through innovative, untraditional ideas, such as financial literacy plays and games that include financial educational information.

Furthermore, the newest file that we are working on in Egypt in cooperation with the Egyptian Banking Institute is expanding the e-payment culture through the salary programme which will allow 6.7 million employees to get paid through payment cards.

This project aims to educate the public sector employees to make them able to use governmental salary cards in purchasing commodities, paying bills and other services.

The project will also target to increase the awareness of public sector employees of the banking account’s significance and to efficiently transact using electronic payment cards.

The project’s first phase consists of training around 120,000 employees from different governmental organs.

Besides these efforts deployed by Visa in financial literacy, an innovative digital campaign was launched under the name of #MyEverywhere.

Through this campaign, tourists upload videos on Visa’s social media platforms in the Middle East in order to promote for what’s best in each touristic city. The campaign included Egypt, the UAE and Jordan, and it has formed a significant element guaranteeing Visa’s cooperation with touristic councils in Abu Dhabi, Jordan and Egypt to encourage more tourists to visit these cities.

This year, Visa has also launched a campaign in the Eastern Arab countries, offering cardholders in Jordan, Lebanon a chance to win Mini Cooper cars, through a withdrawal that they enter for every $100 they spend by Visa during their journey.

The campaign targeted raising the awareness of the safety and convenience of using e-payment while travelling.

Visa also deploys efforts in financial literacy in the UAE, Morocco and other Middle Eastern and Arabian Gulf countries.

What is Visa’s role in reducing risks related to e-payment?

The payment sector witnesses a continuous evolution in products and services designed to facilitate payment methods. There is always a need for deploying efforts to guarantee that there is no gaps in e-payment, which may lead to cyber-squatting on the money.

Through risks management, Visa seeks offering solutions to all parties concerned in e-payment through secure payment tools for consumers and secure acceptance platforms for merchants.

Risk management is represented in monitoring and preventing fraud operation, while Visa, as specialised in e-payment, works closely with its partners including banks, traders and governments to develop standards, techniques and programmes to ensure protection of electronic transactions.

What is new in e-payment protection and its impact in protecting consumers from fraud?

Visa works hard in developing e-payment security through modern and intelligent techniques, including EMV ship and token.

Simply, EMV ship is a miniature computer that enjoys a high degree of security in finalising payment operation.

In case of magnetic stripe cards, there is a possibility to steal information, which could lead to the manufacture of counterfeit cards. In the case of EMV Chip cards, the ship allows a unique symbol necessary to activate the payment process, which cannot be in any form reproducible by criminals, thus it dramatically shrinks the technical possibility for fraud.

And, I would like to note that the UAE has quickly accepted the benefits of this technology, while now more than 90% of the cards available hold EMV chips that are activated by a secret code.

As for the token technique, it will be significant deterrent to fraud, especially in the procurement process through e-commerce and trade via mobile devices.

The token replaces the cardholder data, such as account number and the card’s expiry date with a unique series of numbers, which can be used during payment process without exposing sensitive data related to the cardholder account to be detected.

In general, these techniques work on deleting the account’s sensitive data from the system, thus it makes them un-useful for criminals and reinforcing security rates for both cardholders and traders.

You are promoting for using cards while travelling; what are the benefits of adopting on e-payment abroad?

The adoption of electronic payment cards while travelling leads travellers to avoid many problems related to currency exchange rates, the search for ATMs, and anxiety of carrying large amounts of cash.

Besides the wide acceptance guaranteed by Visa, cardholders benefit from the travel’s numerous advantages available on their platinum cards

While the advantages vary according to the issuance authority, they vary between earning miles with airlines, accessing airports lounges and acquiring discounts in hotels and restaurants.

In addition, Visa cardholders are able to download the Visa Explore application for free on their mobile phone, which is a comprehensive reference for all Visa’s offers and privileges in restaurants, shopping and entertainment.

Share This Article
Leave a comment