International

Visa Adds Global M-Payments Partners

Visa has lined up a string of banks to roll out its new set of mobile payment services for Android phones next week at Mobile World Congress 2015, the card brand announced on Thursday (Feb. 26).

BBVA and Australia’s Cuscal have already launched projects that combine Visa’s tokenization system and Android’s Host Card Emulation (HCE) implementation for issuer-branded mobile payment apps. U.S. Bank, PNC Bank and Banco do Brazil plan to roll out similar apps in the near future.

Banks that have partnered with Visa for their projects stitch the Visa payment technology into their own mobile payment apps. Then customers who have Android smartphones containing NFC chips can download and install their bank’s app from the Google Play Store and go through a one-time enrollment process — after which they can pay in-store at any contactless reader, holding the phone over the reader in the same way they would use a contactless card.

The HCE-based payments are built on the Visa Digital Solutions suite that Visa launched at the 2014 Mobile World Congress for supporting mobile payments for card-issuing financial institutions, merchants and developers. The tools include Visa’s software development kit and the Visa Token Service, which is also the foundation of Visa’s Apple Pay support.

Visa said on its Q4 2014 earnings call that it would be rolling out tokenization support for a wide range of payments systems beyond Apple Pay, including browser-based Visa Checkout. “We’re very excited about what Apple is doing,” Visa CEO Charlie Scharf said on the call in January. “But we want to enable as many scalable solutions that have wonderful customer interfaces that adhere to the highest security standards. And we would expect to see a series of those in the next couple of quarters come to market.”

By working directly with card-issuing financial institutions, Visa is maintaining its existing card brand-bank relationships. In effect, it’s simply pulling out the plastic card format and replacing it with the bank’s mobile app, minimizing disruption.

“It was a great experience working with Visa to implement the first HCE-based mobile payment solution in the Asia Pacific region,” said Adrian Lovney, general manager, product and service at Cuscal. “Australia has the highest usage of contactless payments anywhere in the world and we’re expecting increased uptake of HCE this year.”

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