May 11, 2011

Visa Building a Digital Wallet

Visa Inc. said on Wednesday that it is building a digital wallet that people will be able to use to pay for things online - or with their phones - instead of with traditional cards.

The network said it is working with several large U.S. and international banks to develop the wallet.

Visa's partners so far include Bancorp, PNC Financial Services, Regions Financial, BB&T Corp., Toronto Dominion's TD Bank and the U.S. arm of Barclay's PLC.

"The widespread adoption of Internet and mobile technology is changing the way people connect and transact across the globe, so we're focused on delivering locally-tailored payments products and services," Visa CEO Joseph Saunders said in a statement.

"We are introducing new solutions for eCommerce and mobile devices that provide the same 'Visa-quality' experience--convenience, reliability and security--people enjoy when using their Visa cards at a retail location."

The digital wallet will store the banks' customers' credit and debit card account information, both for Visa cards and other cards. 
Visa said people can use the digital wallet to pay for things online or in stores.

The network will also have to convince merchants to put a new "one click" button on their websites.  This will allow potential customers to use their Visa digital wallets to buy things by clicking the button instead of by manually entering all of their account information every time they want to make an online purchase.

Banks, mobile phone operators and networks like Visa are trying to gain a foothold in the market for mobile payments. 

Isis, a separate mobile payments venture, said last week that it had modified its initial goals and was now open to working with Visa and MasterCard as it introduces its own mobile wallet.

Jim McCarthy, Visa's head of global products, told Reuters that mobile payments in the U.S. "will more easily take off" from people using their smartphones' browsers to buy things online.

Visa and other credit card companies are also trying to figure out ways for people to buy things with their phones in physical stores.

Visa plans to roll out the digital wallet in the U.S. and Canada in the fall of 2011.


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