Viewpoints

Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints

PERSPECTIVES ON DIGITAL CURRENCY

Nov 30, 2011

Visa Joins Public-Private partnership to Help Close the Mobile Phone Gender Gap

Visa is proud to join a new partnership to improve the lives of women in developing countries. Announced today, the GSMA mWomen Global Development Alliance brings Visa together with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and GSMA Foundation in a partnership to close the gender gap in access to mobile phones and the life-enhancing services they can provide. The partnership’s goals include reducing the mobile phone gender gap by 50% and enabling an additional 150 million underserved women in developing countries to own and effectively use mobile phones and their services, including mobile financial services.

Today, half the world’s adult population—2.5 billion people—lacks access to basic financial services. An estimated 70% of the financially underserved are women. Being financially excluded means relying on cash, where a simple task like paying a bill or receiving money from a family member can be risky, costly and time consuming. Financial exclusion also reinforces the cycle of poverty and slows economic growth. And women in developing economies often bear the greater burden of these impacts.

Mobile technology already is demonstrating the potential to change that. By 2012, 1.7 billion people are expected to own a mobile phone but will not have a bank account. Around the world, we already have begun to see the power that mobile technology can have in extending the reach of digital currency, providing the unbanked with tools for payments and other life-enhancing financial services and bringing new participants into the global financial system. This is, in part, why Visa has been investing in mobile, including our recent acquisition of Fundamo and the launch a new product tailored to the needs of consumers in developing countries— a prepaid account that can be accessed through a simple menu on a mobile phone.

Yet, while mobile financial services offer an unparalleled opportunity to advance financial inclusion, there is a global gender gap in mobile phone ownership and usage, with women 21 percent less likely to own a mobile phone than a man. The only way mobile will help improve the lives of women at the base of the pyramid is if we work to close the mobile phone gender gap.

The partnership announced today further strengthens our commitment to advancing financial inclusion not only through product innovation, but also by partnering with some of the world’s leading organizations to better understand the challenges of the financially underserved, share our payments expertise and support programs that deliver basic financial services. We look forward to sharing developments from this partnership as it progresses.

For more information and the official press release, click here.

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on November 30, 2011 at 6:34 am

Nov 22, 2011

Kick Off the Holidays: Visa Cardholders Can Now Earn shopkick Rewards

 As noted by TechCrunch, GigaOm, CNET and others, Visa is teaming up with shopkick, an award-winning mobile app that rewards consumers for simply walking into stores, to deliver valuable loyalty rewards to Visa account holders.

Shopkick now lets mobile users earn more redeemable kicksTM by choosing to link their eligible Visa debit or credit card into its new Buy & Collect program and then making qualifying purchases at participating shopkick merchants with the linked card.  Shopkick users have the option to earn more rewards while shopping in their favorite stores and merchants can increase sales and better measure the effectiveness of their location-based marketing efforts.   

The relationship with shopkick’s Buy & Collect program aligns with Visa’s ongoing commitment to deliver greater value to financial institutions and merchants, while enhancing the consumer shopping experience. In keeping with best practices of security and privacy, consumers must opt-into the program to participate. They receive detailed information on how the program works and can conveniently opt-out at any time.  As consumers embrace new technology to enhance their shopping experiences, we think it’s important for Visa account holders to decide if the benefits of this program make sense for them.

Here’s how it works:

  • Existing shopkick app users will be automatically alerted to the availability of the new Buy & Collect program and those who are new to the app will be notified of this additional, optional program.
  • App users choose to opt in to the new program and link their Visa account on an enrollment page hosted by Visa. When cardholders choose to register their Visa credit or debit card, they agree that Visa will provide shopkick with information regarding their transactions at participating merchants in order to enable shopkick to provide kicks rewards on qualifying purchases. Participation in the new Buy & Collect program is completely optional, and Visa card registration is not required to sign up for the regular shopkick service.    
  • Shopkick app users who opt in to the Buy & Collect program will see a green payment card icon on their “nearby” screen to let them know there are additional offers at participating merchants.  By tapping onto that merchant, they’ll see the buy and collect offer such as “Spend $20, get 400 kicks” at the top of the page.
  • Shopkick app users who opt in to the Buy & Collect program can make a qualifying purchase with their enrolled Visa card at participating Buy & Collect merchants.
  • After swiping their enrolled Visa card, shopkick app users receive real-time notification from shopkick that their kicks rewards are banked – a great combination of walk-in rewards and rewards for purchase.

See how it works here: http://bit.ly/suOLrC

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Posted by: Leigh Amaro, Visa Information Products on November 22, 2011 at 9:14 am

Nov 18, 2011

New Technology to Improve Humanitarian Aid in Emergencies

This week, leading humanitarian organizations are gathering in Nairobi, Kenya, for “Cash Transfer Programming in Emergencies,” the fifth global learning event organized by the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP).

This event brings together humanitarian professionals to share experiences and best practices in delivering cash in emergencies, with a particular focus on the role that new technologies—including digital currency—can play in improving the delivery of money. Technologies like prepaid cards to deliver money to flood victims in Pakistan; money delivered by mobile phone in Haiti for earthquake survivors to pay for recovery work; and codes delivered by mobile phone to use for purchasing food in the Philippines.

Building upon our existing partnership with the CaLP, Visa participated in today’s event to share our experiences and insights in electronifying the distribution of money, both in times of emergency and through non-emergency social development programs, including:

  • In the Dominican Republic, Visa has helped the government’s Social Subsidies Administration electronify the distribution of money through the Solidaridad Visa card, allowing more than 800,000 people to receive critical benefits like unemployment, nutrition assistance, and help for the elderly.
  • In 2010 after catastrophic flooding impacted 20 million people, Visa and our partner financial institutions helped the government of Pakistan deliver emergency cash aid via the Watan Visa prepaid debit card, reaching more than 2 million families and ensuring that flood victims received financial help quickly and securely

As Visa shared today in Nairobi, there are a number of challenges and opportunities to address, including:

  • Infrastructure: advancing the digital currency infrastructure needed to enable electronic delivery of cash ahead of when emergencies occur rather than deploying it during a crisis situation
  • Collaboration: enhancing the collaboration between the global development and humanitarian communities to advance the mutually-beneficial objectives of financial inclusion and enhanced humanitarian support, as well as incorporating a role for the private sector who can help these responses scale and be sustainable
  • Education: ensuring that the beneficiaries of these programs, often unfamiliar with digital currency, receive their benefits along with the education required to understand and use them

As the humanitarian community increases its use of programs that deliver cash in place of physical goods, we are committed to helping this community bring the distribution of aid payments into the 21st century. Because at the end of the day, it is about working together to help those impacted restore their lives.

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on November 18, 2011 at 9:19 am

Nov 16, 2011

Visa Marks Two More Milestones in Delivering the Next Generation of Payments

Six months ago, we announced our global innovation strategy to deliver the next generation of payments.  Today, we’re introducing two important building blocks in that effort: opening Visa to developers via the Visa Developer Center – including the introduction of the V.me by Visa digital wallet brand and global acceptance mark – and the new Visa Mobile Prepaid product designed specifically for consumers in developing countries. These milestones reinforce Visa’s ongoing efforts to give consumers more places and ways to pay and be paid, as well as provide financially excluded consumers with secure and reliable financial services.

Embracing the Developer Community

With the Visa Developer Center, we’re standing behind our belief that some of the most innovative ideas for the future of payments will come from leading-edge software developers. We’re arming the developer community with the tools to build person-to-person payment capabilities, domestic and international remittances, and other applications by providing access to Visa tools, API’s, documentation, and code.  Visa is also improving access to the separate developer resources of CyberSource, Authorize.Net, PlaySpan, and the new V.me digital wallet.  We’re excited about the future innovations 3rd party developers may conceive through the Visa platform, and look forward to payment applications not yet imagined today.

Our First Joint Visa and Fundamo Product

After acquiring Fundamo just over five months ago, Visa is introducing its first jointly developed product: the Visa Mobile Prepaid product.  The new product, a Visa prepaid account that can be accessed through a simple menu on a mobile phone, enables consumers in developing countries to send and receive funds, make purchases online or at merchants where Visa is accepted, and withdraw money at ATMs.  It brings Visa’s high standards for security, reliability and interoperability to consumers who have lacked access to formal financial services. The product is the result of a new mobile money platform that connects financial institutions and mobile network operators with VisaNet.

Stay tuned for additional progress in the weeks and months ahead.

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Posted by: Jim McCarthy, Head of Global Product, Visa Inc. on November 16, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Nov 15, 2011

V.me by Visa

I’m excited to share that today Visa is introducing V.me by Visa, the brand for the digital wallet and new click to buy acceptance mark we announced in May. V.me will be a secure way for consumers to pay online as well as in person with a PC, tablet, or mobile device using Visa and non-Visa accounts.  

We are working with our financial institution clients and merchants on their participation in V.me and have launched an invitation-only beta of V.me capabilities in the US and Canada, so that we can introduce consumer enrollment and payments in early 2012.

We also know developers will play an important role in accelerating adoption of and support for innovative applications using V.me, so one of our first steps in rolling out V.me is today’s launch of an open beta developer program designed initially for online payment applications.  The first V.me developer tools can be accessed through Visa’s new Visa Developer Center or at www.V.me

V.me supports the evolving ways and places people transact.  It is different than other offerings because it is not online or point-of-sale.  It is online and point-of-sale.  Wherever and however people shop, they can take V.me with them – just like consumers have one physical wallet, they will be able to have one digital wallet.  And of course, it will provide features beyond payments such as transaction alerts and the ability to receive personalized offers.  First up: a streamlined online checkout, so consumers can click to buy with the new V.me acceptance mark instead of entering their account information and shipping addresses every time they want to shop from their smart phone, tablet or computer. 

We are taking important steps toward delivering a digital wallet that meets Visa’s standards for a payments experience that is convenient, secure and reliable.  Visa is building on a fifty year tradition as we look ahead to the next generation of payments.

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Posted by: Jennifer Schulz, Global Head of eCommerce on November 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Nov 15, 2011

Visa’s Treasury Team Named 2011 Gold Alexander Hamilton Award Winner

We are very proud to share with you the news that recently, Visa’s treasury team was named the 2011 Gold Alexander Hamilton Award (AHA) Winner in Working Capital Management, presented by Treasury & Risk magazine.  Now in its 16th year, the awards program recognizes excellence in finance and treasury management and honors treasury units in top companies around the world.  While we always like to brag about our innovative teams here at Visa, we are always pleased when they are recognized by industry experts.

This year, our team earned the top place in this category for reducing Visa’s settlement liquidity expose through implementation of a new netting application which they submitted to the AHAs for consideration.  The application they developed which led to the win is one that allows Visa to consolidate payments to and from some of its largest financial institution customers without impacting their operations.

To put that in perspective, Visa operates a massive wholesale funds transfer settlement network – making and receiving over 2,000 payments daily from the financial institutions that issue our cards and pay merchants.  Given that total settlements top $3 trillion annually, the benefits from netting the payments of its largest clients and making or collecting just one payment daily for each financial institution would be huge.

The challenge for Visa treasury and IT was to enable a single net settlement transaction daily but keep the components of the settlement transparent to the FIs so that their legacy systems could continue to post them all as usual.  This meant reinventing the entire settlement process.  Visa treasury met its exposure reduction goal, and as a result, was also able to improve the company’s liquidity and working capital management.  This approach can also be used by others in order to net payments with counterparties even though the existing individual payments are with decentralized or unrelated business units within the counterparty.

Congratulations to our treasury group for their notable accomplishment.

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Posted by: Erica Harvill, Visa Corporate Relations on November 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Category: About Visa

Nov 14, 2011

Paper or Plastic? State Governments Choose Plastic

As the year comes to a close, so too does the era of paper unemployment checks in the District of Columbia.  The DC Department of Employment Services recently announced that all new recipients of unemployment insurance benefits will share in the advantages that come with receiving automatic payments through either Visa prepaid debit cards or direct deposit. 

 According to the DC Department of Employee Services, claimants who select Visa prepaid debit cards will be able to:

  • Access fee-free funds at in-network ATMs
  • Make fee-free purchases everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted
  • Pay bills using their prepaid debit card
  • Access fee-free cash at Visa member banks
  • Access fee-free cash at participating retailers
  • Manage their account online 24/7
  • Access their account via toll-free interactive voice response systems 24/7

Government agencies using Visa Prepaid cards instead of checks for disbursements can lower costs and increase operational efficiencies while providing consumers with more convenient and secure access to funds.  Approximately 39 states are using or are in the process of implementing Visa prepaid card programs to disburse child support, unemployment, TANF and other benefits through more than 80 programs. 

In fact, today, approximately 30 of 38 state unemployment insurance card programs and 32 of 49 state child support programs are delivered by Visa1

Visa programs are helping states including California, Maine, South Carolina, Connecticut, New Jersey and Ohio save millions of dollars in administrative costs associated with paper based programs – including lost or stolen check replacements, bank processing and handling fees, check fraud and check printing costs – while providing greater reliability for the delivery of benefits.

Visa prepaid cards offer a secure, convenient and cost-effective alternative to checks and cash, providing consumers a better way to make everyday purchases, pay bills, and receive deposits.  Visa prepaid cards can be especially valuable for those consumers without checking accounts or traditional banking relationships, helping these consumers move from an inconvenient, unsafe, and potentially costly cash-and-carry lifestyle to more convenient and secure access to funds.

 By receiving benefits on a Visa prepaid card, benefit recipients can enjoy:

  • Money Management and Control Prepaid cards offer consumers greater access to and control over their finances than checks or cash, by enabling cardholders to only spend funds loaded on the card.  Cardholders can track their spending online for improved budgeting.
  • Convenience – Cardholders enjoy immediate access to their funds through direct deposit and can eliminate check-cashing fees.  Disbursement recipients can use their Visa prepaid cards to easily make purchases anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted – in-store, online, or by phone – from paying bills, to making travel reservations, and buying gas at the pump. 
  • Security – Like all Visa products, Visa prepaid cards are protected by Visa’s Zero Liability policy2, which means consumers pay nothing for unauthorized purchases made with their card. 

 Visa works with governments all over the world to help get benefits to people faster and with less disruption while helping save taxpayer money by eliminating the costs associated with checks.

1Data reflects public information available through individual state agency websites.

2Visa’s Zero Liability policy covers U.S.–issued cards only and does not apply to ATM transactions, PIN transactions not processed by Visa, or certain commercial card transactions. Cardholder must notify issuer promptly of any unauthorized use. Consult issuer for additional details or click here.

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Posted by: Hyung Choi, Visa Head of U.S. Prepaid Products on November 14, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Nov 9, 2011

Gap and Visa Expand Mobile4U Offering Just in Time for the Holidays

Yesterday  Gap Inc. announced it has expanded its popular Gap Mobile4U program to deliver offers and promotions for Banana Republic (BR mobile 4U) and Old Navy (Old Navy 4U), in addition to Gap (Gap mobile 4U).  Now there are even more ways for Visa account holders to save via text messages to their mobile phone.

Visa’s global processing network’s ability to analyze transactions in real-time can help businesses like Gap Inc. get the right offer to the right customer at the right time.

Gap was the first merchant to test this Visa capability, and its decision to expand the program speaks to its popularity with their customers – offers only go to those who sign up, and existing Gap Mobile 4U participants must re-register to receive the Banana Republic and Old Navy offers.

Visa account holders who choose to opt-in to the program receive offers that are tailored to them directly to their mobile phone, so they can receive offers while they’re shopping. No need to clip, print or carry coupons anymore. To redeem an offer, the enrolled customer simply presents the SMS text message with the promotion code or bar code at the register – they don’t even need a smart phone.

Gap’s expansion is a testament to the value the Visa network delivers to merchants and their customers. As we work with merchants to deliver new programs, this growth comes with a commitment to ensuring privacy and trust with cardholders.

For more details, visit GapIncMobile4U.

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Posted by: Leigh Amaro, Visa Information Products on November 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Nov 8, 2011

Uncover What Friends & Family Really Want This Year: Visa Gift Cards

As the joy of the holiday season approaches, so too does the challenge of giving the perfect gift.  Staying within budget while trying to find something special and the time to shop is never easy. This year, consumers can take the guesswork out of the equation and check out the 2011 Visa Holiday Gift Giving Survey, for an inside look at what the people on your gift list really want this year.

Give them what they want

  • 59% of respondents said they would rather receive a network-branded card – like a Visa Gift card – over a present chosen by the gift-giver.
  • 45% of consumers still have at least one unopened holiday gift from last year in the back of their closet.

Put the recipient in control

  • 78% of respondents say they would rather receive a network-branded card—like a Visa Gift card—over a gift card for a specific store or restaurant.
  • 58% of consumers said they would use a Visa Gift card to buy “life essentials” such as groceries or household products, or to pay bills.
  • 51% of the respondents believe that giving a Visa Gift card would help them stay within their holiday budget.

We’ve created a one-stop-shop with information about how to become the perfect gift giver every time

Visit the Visa Gift Card Holiday Guide to learn more about how Visa Gift cards can be a helpful, budget-friendly  holiday shopping tool this season.

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Posted by: Lisa McFarland, Head of Consumer Prepaid Products on November 8, 2011 at 10:15 am

Nov 3, 2011

How We Got Here: Reflecting on 30 Years of Payments

After reading Walt Mossberg’s column highlighting game-changing innovations he’s reviewed over that last 20 years, we were inspired to think about the top payment innovations at both Visa and beyond.  While Walt touched on everything from mobile phones and laptops to digital cameras and search engines, we’re proud to be at the forefront of significant payments milestones over the last 30 years.  Looking back, we were surprised at how many major developments significantly impacted the payments landscape in recent history. 

Here’s a snapshot of some of the technology advancements that we think have helped shape the way we pay today:

  • 1983 – Cash Around the Clock: Building on our “anytime, anywhere” promise, Visa launched the first ATM machine network, providing 24-hour cash around the world and contributing to the convenience of modern travel.
  • 1987 – Phone Home: Prepaid calling cards are introduced by World Telecom, Siemens and GE in the U.S. with new magstripe technology.
  • 1989 – Sign Here: Visa added electronic signature capability with the acquisition of Interlink.
  • 1995 – Debit Goes Mainstream: The Visa check card debuts, and the convenience of debit begins to take hold in wallets around the world.
  • 1995 – “Chip” off the Old Block: We co-developed an industry chip card specification, Europay/ MasterCard/ Visa (EMV), to help ensure that all chip cards operate with all chip-reading terminals.
  • 1997 – Gas and Go: ExxonMobil’s Speedpass is the first contactless payment system that allowed consumers to wave to pay at the pump.
  • 2005 – A New Wave of Payments: The first Visa payWave contactless cards are issued in the United States, enabling consumers to just wave to pay.
  • 2005 – The Micropayment Connection: Kiva launches the world’s first personal micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to entrepreneurs. 
  • 2009 – Hip to Be Square: The launch of Square dongles enable non-traditional merchants to accept credit and debit payments.
  • 2011 – The Wallet Goes Digital: In addition to the announcement of Visa’s digital wallet, the next generation payment solution that enables digital, mobile and social commerce, the industry also saw partnerships and consortiums including ISIS and Google Wallet.

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Posted by: Erica Harvill, Visa Corporate Relations on November 3, 2011 at 5:23 pm