Visa looking to move away from plastic cards?

Visa has indicated that it wants to move away from consumers relying on plastic cards for their transactions in Kenya, where it has around 70,000 card users, up 10,000 around ten years ago.

Against that, the country has around nine million mobile phone users, which Visa says it hopes to sign up to its transaction program, allowing phone users to `authenticate' themselves to a retailer instead of using a card.

This isn't as strange as might first sound, as the Kenyan credit and debit card market is still quite young, so persuading people to think of their mobile handsets as their transaction authenticator instead of a plastic card, isn't that major a move.

According to Visa, it plans to move to a mobile-based platform, following on from the launch of mobile phone-based money transfer products such as M-pesa and Sokotele in the Kenyan market.

The gameplan in Kenya is to have moved to a mobile phone-based Visa transaction system within three years, although Visa says it still plans to issue cards to some customers, especially those who want to travel internationally.

One of the main reasons for moving to a mobile phone transaction system in Kenya for Visa is the fact that most card transactions are carried out using paper vouchers.

Using a mobile phone means that transactions can be carried out on a mobile-to-mobile basis, using the mobile phone network as the transaction medium.

Sounds interesting - mind you, there would be some security issues that I'd like to discuss with Visa before I, myself, adopted the system...