Iraq-based International Network for Cards and Digital Payment Services (INC Iraq) and a Lebanese fintech startup NymCard that is digitizing how payments cards are issued, delivered, and used, in collaboration with Visa have launched the first digital-only (prepaid) payment card ‘Neo‘ in Iraq to serve the underbanked Iraqi population, the two companies announced in a joint-statement to MENAbytes.
The virtual card that can be requested through Neo’s mobile app within seconds will enable users to make online purchases on both local and international websites. The entire KYC process is digital. Neo’s mobile application (available for both iOS and Android) comes with a mobile wallet that allows users to keep an eye on their expenses.
The users can recharge their topup their Neo wallet through INC Iraq’s network of offline agents and then add the money from wallet to their card. A company representative, speaking to MENAbytes, said that INC plans to have 2,500 agents in its network within 12 months.
Neo also plans to launch a plastic (physical) travel card within the next few weeks.
INC Iraq CEO Zaid Fawzi, commenting on the launch, said, “Iraq is a ripe market for innovative financial services, with a highly educated population. Most people are on a 3G connected smartphone but lacks access to a bank account and an internationally accepted payment method. Iraqis still travel with bags full of cash and rely on few available gift cards to purchase online – we are determined to change all of that.” that
“Neo is powered by NymCard – A fintech based in Lebanon. Leveraging NymCard’s platform, we are able to launch virtual Visa cards directly to our users’ mobile phones within seconds, and couple them with a plastic companion travel cards if they wish so. All of this without the need to visit a bank branch. Programs like this help the underbanked population get a foothold in the financial system and become part of the wider digital economy,”
NymCard’s co-founder Omar Onsi, who has previously founded and led some other startups as well, said, “The MENA region underbanked population is one of the highest globally. By enabling incumbents and financial start-ups to issue and process digital payments, we envisage the MENA underbanked leapfrogging legacy payments technology.”
“With the under- and unbanked MENA population at such a high level, there’s a significant opportunity for innovative fintech companies, financial institutions, and Banks to leverage the power of the internet and mobile phones to help eradicate this problem,” he added.
Mario Makary, Visa’s Country Manager for Iraq and Lebanon, said: “We are proud to collaborate with NymCard in Lebanon and the International Network for Cards and Digital Payments Services in Iraq to launch Neo card that will help us offer a secure and convenient payment option to the underbanked population in Iraq. Fintechs continue to be key enablers around the world in helping to expand access to electronic payments and opening new acceptance.”
“Visa is a natural partner because we can bring global scale, a recognizable brand, security, reliability and sophisticated capabilities. This partnership is a testament to a how we are working with our partners to launch innovative and secure payment products and help address market needs while offering more enriching and rewarding experiences to customers,” he added.
Alex McCrea, Visa’s Head of Fintech & Strategic Partnerships in the Middle East & North Africa region, said, “Fintechs are redefining payments and are creating exciting new customer experiences. We are doing everything we can at Visa to partner with fintechs to help them launch and scale.”
“Earlier this year, Visa launched our FinTech Fast Track program that offers rapid and easy access to the power of Visa’s network as well as licensing and commercial support. The global program is open to FinTechs in the Middle East as well as in Europe, Africa, Latin America, Asia Pacific and the United States with the aim of helping to develop and accelerate the digital payment solutions of the future,” Alex added.