Nov. 16, 2011
Visa Inc. will launch its digital wallet product some time early in 2012, but contactless-payment capability won’t be part of the wallet until the second half of the year, a Visa executive responsible for the product tells Digital Transactions News.
The first release of the wallet, which Visa is calling V.me, is intended for online transactions and will include an interface allowing customers to load any card of their choice and set usage preferences. It will also include a control panel for merchants, according to Edward Katzin, head of global emerging products at Visa. A subsequent release will include a set of analytical tools for merchants to track conversions and other metrics, he says.
An application enabling Visa’s Paywave contactless platform will follow later in the year, though Katzin says he can’t be more specific than “second half.” The availability of contactless payment, coupled with the related ability to work with near-field communication (NFC) technology, is a subject of intense interest in the payments business with a major NFC launch by Google Inc. this fall and another expected next year from Isis, an NFC-payments consortium put together by the nation’s largest wireless carriers.
With NFC on their handsets, consumers can make wave-and-pay transactions and redeem electronic coupons in physical stores and interact with so-called smart posters, which are embedded with NFC chips to transmit advertising and other media to consumers’ phones. They can also make person-to-person payments to other individuals who have NFC-enabled phones, a capability PayPal Inc. is exploiting with the latest upgrade of its Android app for mobile payments.
Katzin says Visa is starting with e-commerce acceptance for V.me because activity in this market is building momentum. Visa is not ignoring NFC, but “we’re seeing a lot more volume in e-commerce right now,” says Katzin. He stresses that the wallet will be open to any card from any competing network. Parameters consumers set for each card, he says, will be strictly honored. “We’re keeping the consumer at the center of the transaction,” he says. “We will faithfully apply those preferences wherever V.me is accepted.”
To help boost that acceptance, Visa has opened V.me to outside developers, many of whom work for or on behalf of merchants. Developer.v.me is one of five developer centers Visa now operates, says Katzin. The center includes tools to allow developers to build and try out checkout routines and test authorizations. The center for now supports digital goods, though features for physical goods, such as shipping, will be added next year, Katzin says.
The other four centers include two inherited when Visa last year paid $2 billion in cash to buy CyberSource Corp., a provider of fraud tools and gateways for e-commerce. One of these centers was for CyberSource , which serves large online retailers, and one was for Authorize.net, a CyberSource unit and a major gateway for small e-commere merchants. Visa picked up another developer center with its $190 million acquisition early this year of PlaySpan Inc., a vendor of payment solutions for digital goods like online games. And on Wednesday it announced dev.Visa.com, a center for developers working with or for issuers, acquirers, and money-transfer organizations.
The CyberSource acquisition was a critical part of Visa’s push to recruit developers, who have gained influence in recent years over the funding sources online merchants permit and their choice of gateways and acquirers, Katzin says. “This was the key behind the acquisition of CyberSource,” he says. “We wanted to gain the expertise Authorize.net and CyberSource have in engaging with developers and merchants.”
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