The Big Buy-In Edition: How Visa, Google and Greece Are Investing In The Future

We at PYMNTS like to imagine that while the markets wait, watch and speculate today about the future of PayPal as an independent company, its employees are busily engaged in a company-wide sing-along of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.

We doubt it, but everyone needs something to get going on a Monday morning.

But to keep up, you’re going to need some data. Between PayPal going IPO, Apple going across the pond, and Amazon hitting its “Prime” last week, the data overloads can be dizzying.

As always, PYMNTS has your back, with this Monday’s edition of the Data Dive: The Buy-In Edition.

 Visa, Tokens And Why Everything Old Is New Again    

Visa’s Digital Enablement Program (VDEP) is a few weeks old, but according Jim McCarthy, it isn’t really new at all. In fact, it’s simply the latest extension of the vision that Visa has had for almost 50 years: taking the friction out of exchanging value on a global basis.

What is new, McCarthy told Karen Webster in a recent interview, is the use of devices connected to the Internet to make it happen — and how Visa is going to do it with tokens that create the rails for everyone to ride.

Well, maybe not everyone, but pretty darn close. Visa believes VDEP can unlock that value faster — and more securely — for the 14,000 issuers and 2.2 billion cardholders it serves, not to mention the legions of mobile and digital commerce innovators waiting in the wings.

And tokens will be the basis of Visa’s reconceived core.

For each and every new token requestor that wants access to Visa and its 14,000 FI members and their billions of accountholders, McCarthy tells Webster that VDEP provides a consistent, universal framework to leverage. FIs and other payments services providers no longer need to negotiate individual agreements with each other. From the big players, like Android, to the up and comers who want to bind payments credentials to any device connected to the Internet – cars, wearables, appliances, clothing, you name it — VDEP is ready to open the door.

“Any activity that a consumer engages in online – be it through a platform, an app, a browser – generally leads to commerce of some sort,” and that is what VDEP will now seamlessly enable for Visa’s mobile and digital stakeholders, McCarthy explains.

Visa’s role is, as always, “the switch” that connects stakeholders who are exchanging value over the Visa network — nothing more.

“We have no interest in being the purveyors of the digital identity,” McCarthy emphasizes. “We knew that for our tokenization services to work, [they] had to be as simple as possible on the commercial side, so that the technology could do what cool technology can do to enable a great consumer and merchant experience, and business models didn’t have to get in the way.”

Google’s $100 Million Investment (That You Might Have Missed)

Google grabbed up a lot of headline real estate last week with the announcement that it’s catching on to the summer of 2015’s favorite eCommerce fad and launching its own Buy Button.

And while that news was interesting, particularly when paired with the host of other commerce-enabling services that strongly indicate how Google is baiting bigger fish than just buying, it’s clear that Google’s mission is to help merchants capitalize more on the consumer’s shopping journey in general.

“Buying is the last part of the shopping experience,” a Google executive said at an event in NY last week where it unveiled some of what is it cooking up at Google’s HQ in Mountain View.

However, during all the excitement about how easy Google is making it to buy, Google was doing some shopping of its own, leading a $100 million Series C funding round for cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike.

CrowdStrike specializes in offering a Software-as-a Service (SaaS) based endpoint protection platform, which allows organizations to detect, prevent and respond to attacks at any stage.

“It’s extremely gratifying to bring in a high-caliber investor like Google Capital which shares our passion for innovation and sees the opportunity to completely transform the security industry,” said George Kurtz, CrowdStrike’s co-founder and CEO, in a company release.

CrowdStrike is growing fast. It has tripled its employee base since last year and seen its customer base expand similarly.

“We were blown away by CrowdStrike’s incredible growth and impressive customer adoption,” said Gene Frantz, partner at Google Capital. “They have a truly unique SaaS-based endpoint security model, a highly scalable subscription revenue model, and a visionary technical approach that has huge potential to transform the industry, which is why we’re thrilled to make this investment.”

Google Ventures has close to $2 billion in assets under management, with stakes in more than 280 startups. Each year, Google kicks in $300 million in new capital, and this year there will be an extra $125 million to invest in a new European fund.

According to research firm CB Insights, Google Ventures was the United State’s fourth most active VC firm last year, participating in 87 deals.

Greece “Crisis” Averted, Deal Struck

Regular readers of the Data Dive will know that we all might be feeling just a little bit cheated right now. Just a few short weeks ago, we were bracing for a major global meltdown with Greece resisting that ball and chain of austerity.

Well, things have quieted down a bit. Today, Greek banks will open after three weeks of closure and €7 billion in emergency loans will flow into the lovely Mediterranean nation. In return Greece will have to agree to tax increases, spending cuts and pension adjustments to the tune of €25 billion over the next three years.

It should be noted that while this is a somewhat different deal than Athens rejected in June, many, many analysts think it is a worse deal.

As does Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who publicly apologized for signing the deal but noted that he would not resign, for he had made the only choice open to Greece that was viable.

“A disorderly default would not only have led to a collapse of the banking system and a disappearance of all deposits, but it would force us to print a currency which would be drastically devalued because there is no reserve to support it,” he said. “A pensioner who got €800 would get 800 drachmas and it would only last him three days and not a month.”

Funny how that works.

Meanwhile, we hear many Greeks are using bitcoin to get their money out of the country. That story, if true, should make for interesting reading in a few weeks’ time.


New PYMNTS Report: Preventing Financial Crimes Playbook – July 2020 

Call it the great tug-of-war. Fraudsters are teaming up to form elaborate rings that work in sync to launch account takeovers. Chris Tremont, EVP at Radius Bank, tells PYMNTS that financial institutions (FIs) can beat such highly organized fraudsters at their own game. In the July 2020 Preventing Financial Crimes Playbook, Tremont lays out how.

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