Visa announced Wednesday (June 21) that its Everywhere Initiative, which is a program aimed at encouraging the development of the so-called next big thing in payments, will be expanded to include the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions.
In a press release, Visa said as of Wednesday eligible participants in the MENA regions can submit their business solutions that apply to three challenges in the Everywhere Initiative. The first challenge, dubbed Acceptance Challenge, focuses on how startups can leverage Visa APIs for either enabling smaller merchants to accept global payments in-store digitally or providing a safe and secure solution for online merchants to drive eCommerce and reduce cash on delivery. The second challenge, called Airport Transit Challenge, is focused on how can startups leverage Visa’s APIs, mobile technologies and connected devices to transform their transit experience at airports. And the third one, Loyalty Challenge, is looking at how startups can make it easier for consumers to select the right Visa card for their purchases and be notified about Visa offers and benefits at the right time.
Visa said each challenge has been structured while keeping in mind the niche dynamics of the local landscape. As the region’s domestic merchants rapidly expand their digital commerce proposition, payment gateways also must evolve at a breakneck speed to offer their customers a hassle-free shopping experience, the company noted in the press release. What’s more, Visa said the Middle East and North Africa are home to the busiest travel hubs in the world, including Dubai International Airport, which has introduced biometrics and other smart technologies and has significant untapped potential to make its travel experience simpler and faster.
Finally, the company said, in an increasingly competitive startup market, loyalty programs have become one of the key ways to retain old customers and acquire new ones. Payment rewards, which are integral to these programs, have a lot of scope to become intuitive and responsive to cardholders’ needs. One winner per challenge will be selected, and each will receive a $25,000 cash prize. Winners of the prize will be invited to a working meeting with Visa and may be presented with the opportunity to create a prototype. Visa will then select one overall winner to receive an additional $25,000.