Visa Acceptance Enhancements Connect AI to Click-and-Mortar™ Shopper

Earlier this year, Visa and PYMNTS Intelligence trained a spotlight on the Click-and-Mortar™ shopper.

This fast-growing segment, who seek digital features with the instant gratification of in-store shopping, offers both challenge and opportunity for merchants as they offer up reimagined experiences in the aisles, at the register and online.  

Andre Machicao, senior vice president, Acceptance Solutions at Visa, told PYMNTS’ Karen Webster: “The payment experience has got to be seamless — and deeply embedded. Consumers expect digital in every channel in which they interact.”  

There’s a disconnect between expectations and reality.  

The data shows that, depending on the country, retailers failed to provide between a quarter and half of the digital features consumers want. 

Merchants will gain more sales and stronger loyalty if they better align their offerings with shifting consumer demands. But many companies lack the technical and budgetary resources to move quickly and adroitly in meeting consumer expectations — the ubiquitous commerce experience that follows an individual no matter where they choose to shop.

“Merchants of all shapes and sizes require access to a greater variety of capabilities — and they’re looking to integrate with and partner with more providers to bring those capabilities together,” Machicao said.

On Wednesday (April 17), Visa announced enhancements to its Acceptance Solutions, with three updates: One to the Visa Acceptance Platform, another tied to and a third to its Tap to Phone efforts. 

Machicao said the updates “opens up access to services … and the entire ecosystem to create experiences, and bring those capabilities that consumers are asking for.” 

That ecosystem has 450 payment service providers, 450,000 active merchants and 100 independent software vendors across 160 countries. 

Expanding and Connecting the Ecosystem

The just-announced Developer Assist offers up an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that helps partners develop payment flows, answer questions on testing and suggest code — in effect, offering a broad range of component services through a single point of access, at scale and in a consistent manner.  

“This has everything to do with enabling the access of these best-of-breed services, and the simplicity of bringing it all together,” Machicao said. “We’re just at the ‘doorstep’ of AI-powered capabilities” that touch on everything from self-service commerce to shopping assistants.

Expanding Payments Acceptance via Phone

The new initiatives also seek to boost mobile acceptance through Tap to Phone, as sellers accept contactless payments from consumers with certified smartphones. The functionality is live in more than 120 countries and 6.7 million terminals. Beyond the brick-and-mortar settings for tap-to-pay use cases, pilots in Latin America and the Caribbean have also allowed consumers to tap cards to their own devices and pay for online transactions.

“Tap to Phone,” said Machicao of Visa’s efforts, where the function has enabled $8.5 billion in payments volume through the past 12 months, “has the capability to transform a traditional smartphone device into a payments acceptance device without the addition of any payment specific technology or hardware … opening up acceptance in a variety of markets.”

Reimagining the SMB Platform

Visa’s Wednesday announcement also detailed a “reimagined” small to medium-sized business platform, as has fine-tuned its user interface to offer up new dashboards and smart search functionalities to its merchants and ecosystem partners so that data is better aligned to improve workflows.

“We’re bringing the enterprise class, best-of-breed services into a package that’s more attainable and consumable” for smaller merchants, he said, as these firms tackle payment management activities.

Offering sellers simplified and expansive payments acceptance services, said Machicao, will pave the way for new experiences — enabled through what he said is “open collaboration, and open technologies that allow the ‘best of breed’ to thrive, at scale.”