As the global economy responds to COVID-19, we have seen a rapid adoption of digital payments and digital banking. Social distancing, work-from-home and lockdowns require merchants and consumers to move commerce online and has necessitated the need for online payments, contactless terminals and digital banking services.
In the U.S., digital banking app downloads increased 60%, while in Europe, the use of financial apps increased by 72%1 .
Fintechs are at the center of this digital payment ecosystem and Visa’s goal is to enable these companies to expand access to electronic payments and create new payment flows. We seek to partner, invest and support fintechs through programs that can help them scale globally and create new digital payment experiences.
Rapidly growing companies need to scale with efficiency. Our Fast Track program brings together all the pieces a fintech needs to get up and running, streamlining the process of integrating with Visa and connecting to our network. Since expanding globally a year ago, Fast Track has grown 280%2 to more than 140 fintechs, underscoring the surge in demand for digital payments.
The program allows start-ups and established companies to more easily leverage Visa’s capabilities, and global reach. Fast Track provides turnkey access to our ecosystem partners, online licensing, Visa APIs and extensive go-to-market toolkits to help fintechs scale.
Many of our Fast Track fintechs are focused on recovery. For example, Australia-founded Airwallex has extended support to Australia and UK-based small businesses in need by offering to waive their international transactions fees, while U.S.-based Fundation, is helping small businesses quickly get the capital they need during these times. Rappi, a Colombia-based fintech, has begun piloting food delivery robots, working to minimize the spread of the virus.
While the program is open to any company that might have a need to integrate with Visa for some type of payment, the primary potential for Visa is working on Fintechs digitizing cash payments.
With new members from Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America, the group is transforming how consumers and businesses manage money, invest, receive loans and send payments worldwide. The newest members span a diverse range of companies, including female-founded fintechs, digital currency wallets, consumer-centric and business-to-business (B2B) solutions providers.
Enablement partners, responsible for laying the foundation for fintechs to build their products, are also key collaborators for Fast Track. Three new program manager enablement partners in the U.S. – Cascade FinTech, Deserve and PEX – bring the total number of enablement partners to more than 20 globally, joining companies like Galileo, Marqeta and Stripe.
Challenging startups to think big
Beyond Fast Track, our Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI) tasks start-ups and Fintechs to solve the payment and commerce challenges of tomorrow.
Since launching in the U.S. in 2015, the Visa Everywhere Initiative has quickly expanded to include more than 7,000 applying startups from over 100 countries, collectively raising more than $2.5 billion in funding as a result of the program. Visa Everywhere Initiative India kicked off earlier this year with a roadshow, and Visa Everywhere Initiative for Latin America and Caribbean regions is now taking applications for startups meeting two challenges: innovation in payments to support the small business recovery and finding ways to improve mass transit through more efficient forms of ticketing and payments.
Last week, Visa hosted its first livestreamed virtual finals where competitors pitched their solutions to a group of judges from Visa, and leading VCs for five challenges, in areas like supply chain management, consumer banking, money transfer, contactless payments and more. Winning companies were awarded $100,000 in prizes, and included:
- Overall winner—$50,000 USD: Edrizio De La Cruz | Co-Founder and CEO, Arcus
- Audience Favorite—$25,000 USD: Edrizio De La Cruz | Co-Founder and CEO, Arcus
- 2nd place –$15,000 USD Sunwoo Hwang | Founder & CEO, Sixup
- 3rd place –$10,000 USD Stan Smith | Founder & CEO, Gradient AI
As the impacts of COVID-19 continue, we created a new challenge to help find immediate solutions to help rebuild small businesses. Finals for this challenge will be held in September 2020.
Earlier this year, our VEI: Women’s Global Edition specifically supported female founders and co-founders who are solving both business and social challenges. Fintech winner Tez Financial Services is the first fully digital financial institution in Pakistan providing frictionless financial access to the unbanked and under-banked via a smart phone application.
COVID-19 has proven to be one of Fintech’s greatest challenges yet, as well as one of the largest opportunities for the industry to showcase its wide variety of unique assets and ability to innovate. Every day around the world, more and more people are turning to digital forms of payment as we settle into our new normal. Visa is here to help as this becomes our new reality.
1AppsFlyer: The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on App Installs and Marketing Budgets, June 2020; DeVere Group: Coronavirus lockdown: Massive surge in the use of fintech apps, March 2020
2 Visa Fast Track Global Data, May 2020