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India’s Aircel, ICICI Bank among first to make use of payment provider’s hosted service.

Visa on Wednesday launched a managed mobile money offering designed to make it simple for banks and operators to link financial services to mobile phone numbers.

Hosted in Visa’s data centres, the new service is based on the mobile money platform developed by Fundamo, the mobile financial services specialist that Visa acquired in 2011 for $110 million. It can manage all aspects of a budding mobile money service, from the usual transaction processing, authorisation, clearing and settlement processes, right up to user interface design and customer enrolment.

“Visa’s new mobile money platform is designed to allow mobile operators and financial institutions to focus on their core business, while leaving the management of their mobile money service to Visa,” said Bill Gajda, head of global mobile products at Visa, in a statement.

One of the first customers of Visa’s new hosted service is Indian operator Aircel, which has partnered with one of the country’s biggest banks, ICICI, to enable its customers to send money, top up their prepay accounts, and pay their bills via their handset.

“Through the Visa hosted and managed service, Aircel is now able to partner with local banks to offer our mobile subscribers access to money services that will simplify their financial lives,” said Geoff King, head of mobile banking at Aircel.

Two Rwandan banks, Bank of Kigali and Urwego Opportunity Bank of Rwanda have also signed up to the service.

Visa’s platform supports multiple mobile channels, such as USSD, IVR and xHTML, enabling operators to roll out services that will work on not just smartphones but low-cost feature phones as well.

In addition, it can be tailored to comply with different regulatory requirements in different countries, allowing operator customers and financial institutions to deploy globally interoperable mobile money services.