Fundamo co-founder and CEO Hannes van Rensburg is set to head up the Sub-Saharan division of Visa — the world’s largest debit and credit card network.
The South African-based mobile money platform has been a part of Visa since mid-2011 when it was bought out for US$110-million.
Elizabeth Buse, Group President of Visa Asia-Pacific, Central Europe, Middle-East and Africa reckons that Van Rensburg intuitively understands “the social, political and business environment in Sub-Saharan Africa”.
She thinks that this understanding comes largely from his experiences with Fundamo, which expanded from its South African base into Africa and South and Southeast Asia. In fact, the company helped develop the first mobile payments system in Africa back in 2002.
Certainly Van Rensburg seems well versed in the challenges presented by the continent:
Africa is both unique and full of paradoxes. It is largely a cash-based economy, yet is one of Visa’s fastest growing regions for electronic payments. It has little technological infrastructure when compared to other regions, but presents an enormous opportunity to introduce new technologies that leapfrog legacy infrastructure. It is a growth continent with a clean technological slate.
According to Visa, the appointment is part of its restructuring efforts in the region. These efforts, it says, will bring together, under one management team, all business activities for Visa in the region and provide a solid leadership vision and structure to drive new growth for Visa and its financial institution clients.
Van Rensburg says his immediate priorities will be to make sure that the company focuses on areas its various clients and government partners want it to, and “ensuring that Visa maintains the people, processes and passion befitting our leadership position.”
Shortly after Visa bought out Fundamo, the two companies launched an emerging markets MCommerce product that allows people to access prepaid accounts through their mobile phones.
At the time Visa claimed that it offered “unbanked and under-banked” people in emerging market regions a “secure, reliable, globally interoperable electronic payment account”.