In a little under a month, 25 days to be more precise, the 2019 AFCON tournament kicks off in Egypt. While we enjoy football in the office, the African competition does not have much of a tech angle, or at least it didn’t until Visa came onboard as a sponsor for the month-long event.

At a press conference held in Johannesburg earlier today, the payment solutions provider explained why it decided to sponsor the sporting showcase, as well as what role in will be taking throughout the tournament.

Speaking to media, Visa’s director of Corporate Communications for South and Southern Africa, Lesego Charlie, explained that the company has had a long-standing relationship with football tournaments, having been a partner for the FIFA World Cup since 2007. As such Visa felt it necessary to brings its services to a local tournament, and AFCON serves as the best opportunity.

Visa is signed to sponsor the next two tournaments, with Charlie adding that it represents a significant chance for the solutions provider to showcase some of its more innovative mobile services. This as Charlie notes, is important, especially as most parts of Africa still remain a cash-heavy environment.

She adds that Egypt is one too, with its digital maturity not on the level of South Africa, but they’re hoping initiatives offered up by the likes of AFCON can help change this.

For the tournament Visa is aiming to make the payment experience of fans as seamless as possible, and in particular will be rolling out a card solution to facilitate payments at stadiums and other venues throughout AFCON 2019. Aware of the cash-heavy emphasis in Egypt, they will also make more ATMs available to fans as well.

These mobile solutions will only be present as three stadiums in Egypt, however, with Charlie highlighting again that cash is still king in the country.

Along with the payment platforms for AFCON 2019, Visa is also handling the player escort programme for the tournament, with 1 100 children being flown to Egypt to accompany players onto the pitch for matches. 16 of that 1 100 will come from South Africa, with Visa having recently wrapped up a series of local events to find worthy children.

The company explained to us that skill on the pitch alone were not the only deciding factors for selection, with fair play, respect and good sportsmanship also contributing factors.

With the football stadium experience varying greatly depending on which nation you find yourself in on the African continent, it should be interesting to see if Visa involvement and technology can help improve this.