Visa Expands Visa Token Service, Eyes eCommerce ‘Balancing Act’

click to pay, digital first payments

Visa said Wednesday (May 13) that 28 new partners — spanning a range of gateway acquirers and technology partners —  are joining Visa Token Service as credential on file token requestors.

The 28 additions add significantly to the 150 token requestor partners that had been included in Visa Token Service through the years since the service launched in 2014.

And in an interview with PYMNTS, Alan Johnson, vice president of digital solutions at Visa, said that the expansion of the service comes as merchants and retailers across all verticals are pivoting to embrace “digital-first” commerce amid the coronavirus pandemic.

And as the great pivot takes shape, Johnson said one thing remains a constant:

“Fraudsters are always going to adapt,” he said. The bad actors are eyeing eCommerce and specifically card not present transactions as promising attack vectors.

In terms of mechanics, the tokens replace cardholders’ 16-digit Visa account numbers with tokens that only the payments network can unlock for one-time or recurring transactions.

Layering tokenization on top of and into the checkout experience brings another element of security for card on file transactions and guest checkout transactions.

That’s due to cryptography and domain controls that render tokens useless in the event fraudsters do attack.

“It’s a multipronged approach,” he told PYMNTS, which augments other tools the payments network has in place to make commerce secure. Johnson noted that Visa also examines each transaction, analyzing hundreds of thousands of attributes with the goal of making a decision that will help parties understand whether transactions are risky or not.

Asked by PYMNTS about how quickly tokenization is gaining traction, he said that from a token issuance perspective, the company has been seeing 100 percent growth, measured in terms of volume, year over year. The service now enabled across more than 130 countries.

Visa said in January that participants in its Visa Token Service were poised to process eCommerce volumes of $1 trillion since the service’s debut.

New partners joining Visa Token Service include acquirer gateway and technology partners Assist, Aurus, BlueSnap, Braspag, Bambora, DPO PayGate, eComCharge, Fat Zebra, eGHL, Infinitium, iPay88, Iveri, LiqPay/PrivatBank,, Moneris, One Inc., Omise, Payture, Payvision, Portmone, RBK.Money, Spreedly, Tickets Travel Network EESTI, Tranzzo, WalletDoc, WayForPay, Windcave and Yandex.Money.

Once certified, Visa said, these 28 partners will be able to tokenize credential-on-file digital payments on behalf of their merchant and payment clients for an additional level of security.  They join a roster of token requestors including mobile and wearable manufacturer and issuer wallets, among others.

The Click To Pay Transition

On a broad level, said Johnson, tokenization helps facilitate the balancing act between ease of checkout and security that demand a simpler streamlined online shopping experience.

He offered an update on where the transition to unified digital checkout — and the Click to Pay’s button’s progress — with one word:


Visa, as has been reported, began moving its Visa Checkout merchants to the Click to Pay button beginning in January. That new button, tied to Secure Remote Commerce (SRC) specifications from EMVCo helps merchants accept card payments from Visa and payment networks including Mastercard, UnionPay, Express, Discover and JCB. SRC, which standardizes the checkout experience, also requests the encrypted tokens from token service providers.

Johnson said that to date Visa has migrated more than 10,000 merchants in the U.S. to Click to Pay and said that the migration will continue over the next several months.

The tailwinds are there, he said, for merchants to make the transition as “consumers shift to digital-first commerce at a rapid pace.”

But the challenges are there too, he said.  He noted that online commerce is still dominated by laborious data entry that means that during guest checkout, consumers must navigate through as many as 23 data fields before they can actually complete orders.

Those frictions can bedevil merchants across all verticals, where, say restaurants are pivoting to order ahead and pickup at curbside models, or where the IOT and voice-enabled commerce are gaining traction.  Simply put: Consumers want to connect with merchants easily.

The company has estimated that more than two-thirds of U.S. consumers — 69 percent — choose to have cards on file or recurring billing set up with merchants.

With Click to Pay, consumers do not have to enter their card information, nor do they have to have that data store in their browsers. And as Johnson told PYMNTS, payment credentials can automatically be updated if they expire or are compromised.

“Click to Pay,” Johnson told PYMNTS, “enables a seamless, passwordless experience that allows you to get past the form fields. If you look at the SRC icon, it resembles a ‘fast forward’ type of symbol. And that’s exactly what we are trying to help our merchants do — to allow their consumers to ‘fast forward’ through what would otherwise be a painful checkout process.”