NEW YORK, NY, Apr 12, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) --Visa Inc. (NYSE: V), Women's World Banking, Diamond Bank and Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) today announced that they are partnering to advance financial inclusion in Nigeria for underserved women and provide them an opportunity to become economically and socially empowered through access to a savings account.
Today, nearly 77 percent of women in Nigeria are financially underserved.(1) Research has shown that low-income women are good savers, but they need a safe and convenient way to save. Through this partnership, Visa and EFInA are providing the philanthropic funding for Women's World Banking to support Diamond Bank in developing a commercially viable savings product tailored to the needs of underserved women in the country. The project will include both traditional bank branches and mobile phones as channels to deliver savings accounts.
"Without access to savings services, women are forced to keep cash at home or in informal savings mechanisms -- both risky options that could result in theft or loss," said Mary Ellen Iskenderian, president and CEO, Women's World Banking. "Since women in developing countries are usually responsible for managing household budgets, gaining access to a safe way to save is often a critical stepping stone out of the cycle of poverty for the whole family."
The Visa- and EFInA-backed project will involve three phases. First, Women's World Banking will work with Diamond Bank to research and understand what type of savings services Nigerian women want and need to improve their financial lives. Second, the organizations will collaborate on designing and piloting a product that will be available at physical branches and on mobile phones. Finally, a savings product will be launched nationally after a successful pilot. In addition, financial education for women will be provided in partnership with local community organizations.
"Around the world, there is a growing recognition that cash-based economies are a major impediment to advancing financial inclusion," said Joe Saunders, chairman and chief executive officer, Visa Inc. "Helping the underserved women of Nigeria move physical cash out from under mattresses and into formal savings accounts -- combined with the potential of mobile phones to enable access to these accounts -- will be a significant step toward financial inclusion in the market."
Advancing financial inclusion has been a priority for the government of Nigeria. Last year, the Central Bank of Nigeria announced a commitment to reduce Nigeria's financial exclusion rate from 46.3 percent to 20 percent by 2020. In addition, the country's Cashless Lagos Project aims to reduce the use of cash and increase electronic transactions.
"We believe this is an opportunity to prove that meeting the needs of women in developing countries can be sustainable," Iskenderian said. "The partners involved in this project are poised to build that business case, while also contributing to a real and lasting impact for women."
About Women's World Banking Women's World Banking (WWB) is the only global microfinance network focused on women and working to ensure that financial institutions provide services tailored to women's needs that are affordable, convenient and sustainable to deliver. WWB is currently working with seven institutions in six countries to introduce savings or adapt existing savings products to meet the needs of women and girls.
WWB is a global network of 39 leading microfinance institutions from 27 countries. The network members are diverse in geography, size and structure but united in the firm belief that microfinance must remain committed to women as clients, innovators and leaders. By providing innovative approaches that we can replicate and scale we can prove that investing in women directly can be both profitable, and generate positive social benefits.
For more information, visit www.swwb.org.
About Visa Inc. Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions, and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency. Underpinning digital currency is one of the world's most advanced processing networks -- VisaNet -- that is capable of handling more than 20,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and guaranteed payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa uses its products, interoperable global processing network, mobile and security capabilities, and payments expertise to help facilitate financial inclusion at scale.
For more information, visit www.corporate.visa.com.
About EFInA Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) is a financial sector development organization that promotes financial inclusion in Nigeria. Established in late 2007, its vision is to be the leader in facilitating the emergence of an all-inclusive and growth-promoting financial system. EFInA is funded by the UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. EFInA's holistic approach to expanding access to financial services for all, especially for low income households is based on research, innovation and advocacy.
About Diamond Bank Plc Diamond Bank Plc began as a private limited liability company on March 21, 1991 (the company was incorporated on December 20, 1990). Ten years later, in February 2001, it became a universal bank. In January 2005, following a highly successful Private Placement share offer which substantially raised the Bank's equity base, Diamond Bank became a public limited company. In May 2005, the Bank was listed on The Nigerian Stock Exchange. Today, Diamond Bank is one of the leading banks in Nigeria -- respected for its excellent service delivery, driven by innovation and operating on the most advanced banking technology platform in the market. Diamond Bank has over the years leveraged on its underlying resilience to grow its asset base and to successfully retain its key business relationships. We have retained excellent banking relationships with a number of well-known international banks, allowing us to provide a bouquet of world class banking services to suit the business needs of our clients. The Bank has a strong retail strategy aimed at creating a niche in that segment, hence the creation of the retail division in 2008, which focuses on providing strong value propositions to the consumer and MSME segments. The division's aggressive growth strategy is based on developing a range of value-adding propositions, incorporating financial products and services, including the provision of electronic banking services. More information can be found at www.diamondbank.com.
(1) EFInA Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2010 Survey
Media Contacts: Julie Slama Women's World Banking Email Contact 212-642-7504 Michelle Mulkey Fleishman-Hillard for Visa Inc. Email Contact 415-318-4118
SOURCE: Visa Inc.