Ubiquity of acceptance is payments’ holy grail.
It’s an experience that people living in the developed world have learned to expect each time they produce a plastic debit, credit or gift card to use in a store anywhere in the world to pay for something they buy. What makes the experience ubiquitous is the set of standards that card networks have agreed to support so that transacting with those payments products is interoperable and consistent for everyone across the payments ecosystem. Credit and debit cards don’t come in different shapes or sizes — and even in the era of EMV, they still have mag stripes to make them useful at merchants that don’t yet accept chip cards.
That’s not the case in the digital world.
There isn’t a standard today for how consumers and merchants transact when shopping online. That lack of a standard delivers an inconsistent payments experience for consumers who use a number of devices and digital wallets to buy online. This NASCAR-ization of “buy buttons” on merchant checkout pages adds friction for consumers who want a consistent way to pay at any merchant site they visit — and adds time and expense to merchants facing a series of integrations to support multiple payment options at checkout.
Visa Digital Commerce leverages EMVCo’s Secure Remote Commerce (SRC) technical framework that eliminates the need for passwords and streamlines and standardizes the end-to-end digital payments process flow across browsers and devices — existing and emerging.
In an interview with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster, Visa’s Global Head of Payment Processing, Products and Solutions, TS Anil, said the launch of Visa Digital Commerce takes a cue from the role of standards in driving not just ubiquity of acceptance for cards, but certainty of the experience for consumers.
“Everybody knows how their cards work today in a store,” Anil said, “we want to support that experience online and extend it to any connected endpoint that consumers may want to use in the future to buy something from a merchant.”
Visa Digital Commerce, Anil said, will offer the consumer a secure, but more streamlined experience when transacting with a merchant online. The device or browser that consumers are using will recognize them when logging into a merchant site using biometrics or passcodes to authenticate them instead of a password.
Over time, Anil posited, the consumer experience will eventually include nothing more than the merchant “Pay” or “Buy” button, which, when clicked, will reveal a dropdown tray with the consumer’s registered payments credentials available for them to select and then checkout. In the interim, and as Visa Digital Commerce rolls out, consumers may not see visible changes to the merchant checkout page, but they’ll be able to see additional functionality within the Visa Checkout button itself and even perhaps a “universal” buy button where all card brands are presented in the same dropdown tray format.
As a first step, Anil said Visa will move its Visa Checkout base of 33 million customers, 350,000 merchants and 1,600 financial institutions to the Visa Digital Commerce Program beginning in late 2018, which, Anil emphasized, will include all participating card brands.
Visa noted that for merchants already accepting Visa Checkout, conversion to the standard is easy, while merchants not currently accepting Checkout will simply need to perform a one-time integration.
Anil believes other card networks will want to participate in the Visa Digital Commerce Program because its roots in the SRC standard are based on the EMV standard, tokenized transactions and a standardized data payload, representing a fast track to the interoperable, consistent digital payments experience that consumers, merchants and issuers want.
The ability for the ecosystem to rally around a digital payments standard offers much more than a consistent experience; it opens up new opportunities for innovation, Anil emphasized. Having a standard to leverage and build on top of, he said, will unlock new opportunities for innovation, since the focus can be diverted to creating a great user experience or merchant or issuer innovation — instead of investing in integrations across many different digital methods of payments today.
“In the absence of [digital] standards,” Anil noted, “it became apparent that a lot of the innovations in mobile and payments in-store and across merchant environments weren’t moving as fast as we all wanted it to be moving.”
By leveraging the EMVCo Secure Remote Commerce protocol, Anil said, the payments and commerce ecosystem can focus on what’s next — rather than doing multiple integrations to what’s now. After all, what’s now may not stand the test of time in a world moving at the speed of digital.