You could be lying on the pristine beaches of Phuket this weekend, or trekking along the Great Wall of China the next. With budget flights on the rise and an ever abundant array of attractive travel packages on offer, getting away to an exotic locale or a dazzling metropolis has never been easier.
It’s no wonder then that despite an uncertain economic climate, international tourist arrivals crossed the 1 billion mark in 2012, and is expected to grow another three to four percent. Moving in tandem with the rise in travel is also the growth in tourism receipts. In 2012 alone, global travel spending grew a healthy seven percent to reach €875 billion, or US$1.15 trillion.
As travel becomes easier and more accessible, so have the methods of payment. Long gone are the days when cash or traveler’s checks were the only accepted forms of currency. Today, Visa cards are accepted at tens of millions of merchants around the world and provide 24-hour cash access at over 2 million ATMs in more than 200 countries. Not only are payment cards more convenient than cash, they are safer too. Cash can be hard to keep track of and easy to misplace, especially when you’re changing planes or hotels. However, cards can be replaced if they get lost or stolen.
Nevertheless, as you plan your next vacation, keep in mind that no matter where you go, criminals are on the lookout for new methods to commit fraud at the expense of your wallet and peace of mind. So, whether you’re traveling on business or taking a well-deserved vacation, refer to our infographic for some practical suggestions on how you can make travel more secure, hassle free and enjoyable:
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 42.5 million people around the world have been forced to flee from their homes due to conflict, natural disasters or persecution. Much of these are from the geography I oversee; Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East & Africa. As the world comes together on June 20 to recognize World Refugee Day, the occasion serves to raise awareness about the hardships these displaced persons endure and reminds us of the importance of extending relief to them.
While great strides have been made in delivering much-needed assistance to displaced persons since the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees entered into force in 1954, relief and assistance to refugees still largely come in the form of food and supplies. While these forms of aid provide valuable assistance that can make a world of difference, they can also be expensive to transport, inefficient and ineffective. For example, food and other supplies may be prone to spoilage or theft, and may go unused and wasted if donated supplies do not meet the needs of the local environment. In places prone to corruption, relief in the form of cash may never reach those in need.
Today, evolutions in technology are enabling new industries, such as electronic payment systems, to play a vital and complementary role to the work that aid agencies, governments and civil groups do to disburse supplies and assistance.
Electronic payment network operators, such as Visa, have been working alongside governments, NGOs and others to improve and streamline the delivery of aid through electronic payment products. This not only makes the delivery of aid instantaneous and secure, but also extends access to basic financial services to those in need. As such products can be linked to a bank account at a licensed financial institution, this is often the first opportunity for many people to be included in the formal financial system.
For instance, in Pakistan, the National Identity Agency of Pakistan, United Bank Limited and Visa teamed up to distribute badly needed aid to families fleeing their homes after fighting broke out in the country’s Northwest Frontier Province. The partners distributed aid on Visa prepaid cards, each loaded with 25,000 rupees (US$300), and installed terminals in local businesses to accept payment cards and connect them to the global payments network. These terminals helped displaced persons use their preloaded prepaid cards to buy much-needed food, medicine and other essential supplies from local merchants, and gave these businesses the opportunity to participate in the global economy. As a result of the program, more than 270,000 new bank accounts were created, offering otherwise excluded citizens access to secure and reliable financial services.
In July 2011, flooding devastated the Philippine island of Mindanao, the second largest island in the country. More than 120,000 families and 7,000 acres of crops were affected. Visa, together with Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) member Action Against Hunger/ACF International and Philippine Veterans Bank, delivered a voucher program using Visa prepaid cards to affected families. The beneficiaries used the cards to purchase food and supplies at supermarkets in the area. The program rolled out in eight days, and two monthly fund transfers were made to the recipients via the prepaid cards, helping to automate the disbursement process and alleviate the burden on the families.
As we come together on World Refugee Day to reflect upon the importance of extending relief to people displaced from their homes due to conflict, natural disasters or persecution, we are encouraged by innovative solutions that can help bring greater transparency and efficiency to aid distribution. These have the power to provide displaced persons with the dignity and flexibility to obtain the supplies and assistance relevant to their needs, and stimulate the local economy. As we survey the realm of possibilities, Visa, for one, is excited about the opportunities ahead to better serve those in need.
In today’s business environment owning a small business can mean big things — bigger markets, bigger customer base, wider marketing reach. With the use of modern technology a small business owner in California can connect, market and sell to customers in Dubai. Welcome to the world of exporting.
We see exporting as an exciting and growing opportunity for small businesses and a great way to find new customers. Visa recently demonstrated support for the Obama Administration and the SBA in their National Export Initiative designed to renew and revitalize efforts which promote American exports abroad. In May, Visa teamed up with the SBA Office of International Trade to co-sponsor a video contest seeking to inform small businesses about the advantages of exporting and increase awareness of government assistance available to support small business exporters. To hear their exporting success stories, click here.
Visa is pleased to recognize and celebrate the achievements of small businesses year round and especially during National Small Business Week.
Technology continues to transform payments and it is changing the way consumers all over the world shop, pay and get paid. The advent of the Internet, mobile phones and social networks has started an unprecedented expansion of the payments ecosystem and ignited a series of innovations. From eCommerce and cross-border remittances, to mobile wallets and acceptance devices, consumers never before had so many options on how and where to transact.
As the consumer shopping experience evolves, so does the backbone technology that enables transactions from all over the world to be authorized in less than a second and settled to the penny every time. VisaNet, our global payments network, is an integral part of this backbone. It connects more than two billion debit, credit and prepaid accounts to nearly 15,000 financial institutions and 36 million merchant locations in more than 200 countries around the world. In its data centers, more than 82 billion transactions in 175 currencies are processed yearly, representing US$6.5 trillion in total volume.
For more than 50 years Visa’s network has played a key role in reducing cash spend across the globe. When we started as a pilot in Fresno, California, in 1957, we could not imagine that electronic payments would turn into one of the best success stories of the 20th century. Today, it is hard to imagine a world without them. From a cup of coffee to a refrigerator, we pay for nearly everything with payment cards. They stimulate economic growth, reduce inefficiencies and benefit consumers, businesses and governments around the globe.
To stay one step ahead of the global adoption of electronic payments, we’ve continuously expanded and enhanced VisaNet. We have built and acquired secure payment gateways, such as Cybersource and Fundamo that enable merchants, financial institutions and mobile network operators to more easily connect to Visa and offer consumers innovative new ways to pay. From mobile offers and transaction alerts delivered via SMS text message, to mobile payments on the go and at physical retailers, the pace of innovation in the payments industry is exciting. However, we have an obligation to innovate responsibly, and ensure that the core attributes of security, reliability and trust in Visa payments applies to new forms of payments. Our goal is simple: Continue to be the best way to pay, for everyone, everywhere.
Where did you pick up your dry cleaning today? Or grab those flowers on your way home from work? Chances are you went to a local small business. Small businesses have been fueling the economy for years, providing niche products and services with personal style. According to the SBA Office of Advocacy, small businesses created nearly 12 million net new jobs between 1993 and 2011.
While we are dedicated to helping small businesses all year-round, this week we give special thanks for all your hard work and personal dedication.
Around the world, Visa is driving financial inclusion and increasing financial literacy among the underserved through our products, services and network; strategic partnerships and educational programs. Visa also actively contributes to the global conversation about how to best address financial inclusion and meet the needs of the underserved. Last week, Visa joined leaders in the financial inclusion community in Myanmar, Colombia and the United States to discuss the global imperative to reach full financial inclusion and collaborate with others to identify solutions.
Last week, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) hosted its second international conference on business at the base of the pyramid, the Base II Forum, in Medellin, Colombia. The forum brought together over 1,000 leading experts who work to create innovative business models that connect private sector resources and the untapped potential at the base of the socioeconomic pyramid.
Visa’s Head of Product, LAC, José María Ayuso participated throughout the forum to discuss how Visa is contributing to address the base of the pyramid segment needs through services and solutions. Ayuso contributed to a panel discussion titled “The Great Corporate Leap to Markets of the Base of the Pyramid: Strategy or Coincidence?” As the leader of Visa’s LAC region, Ayuso was able to share the ways in which the company has worked within the region to address the financially underserved.
“Financial Inclusion is in our DNA,” said José María Ayuso during his presentation. “For many years Visa has been working with the Base of the Pyramid, helping micro entrepreneurs build their businesses. However, to be able to reach scale and critical mass, private and government sectors need to work hand in hand. There are many fronts that need to be addressed in a collaborative manner. A couple of them are the high level of informality that still exists and effective regulation that provides real support to this segment.”
According to a study commissioned by Visa and conducted by the Latin American publication América Economía, in Colombia in 2012, SMEs card penetration is 13%, while in the region is 38%.
At Visa, we are proud to know that our products, services and global network are helping provide women and other financially underserved populations with access to the financial tools they need to lead safer, more convenient and dignified lives.
The way we pay has evolved dramatically over the last 50 years. The “electronification” of commerce has helped to stimulate economic growth, reducing inefficiencies and providing consumers convenient and secure access to their funds. Mobile technology, in particular the introduction of low cost mobile “card readers” is helping to drive the migration from cash and checks to electronic forms of payments.
From emerging markets, where traditional acceptance infrastructure simply does not exist, to farmers markets and coffee shops in developed countries, mobile point-of-sale acceptance is helping to displace cash payments and enabling merchants of all sizes – even the smallest ones – to accept card payments. It is an inventive solution from both the technology and business model points of view, which leverages the broad penetration of mobile phones to add acceptance to those segments of merchants where cash used to be the only available option.
At Visa, we see great potential to accelerate the migration to electronic payments through mPOS solutions. By helping to promote the use of these services in the Visa system, we believe they will have a greater uptake and benefit more consumers and merchants worldwide. But we want to do that in a responsible way, so to ensure that innovative payments like mPOS technology provides the same security, reliability and scale as traditional payment terminals.
This is why earlier this year we launched the Visa Ready Program, a streamlined process for the testing and approval of new payment solutions that enables our business partners to more rapidly deploy products for use with Visa payments. Last week, we’ve announced five new leading mobile acceptance providers to join the program: AnywhereCommerce, iZettle, Miura Systems, SumUp and Swiff. Two of them, AnywhereCommerce and Miura System, already have mPOS devices that are approved to accept Visa payments.
There are over two billion Visa cards around the world today and with every new mPOS device that is put out there lays an opportunity to displace paper-based payments. In the United States alone, mPOS can help to migrate more than $1.1 trillion yearly from paper to electronic payments. This is a tremendous opportunity for solutions providers, financial institutions and merchants. Visa is ready to help our clients and partners seize this great momentum, while at the same time giving consumers the peace of mind they need to transact in the mobile channel.
For detailed information on last week’s announcement, click here.
 Javelin Strategy & Research, Mobile POS (Point of Sale) Business and Market Impact 2013: Emerging Technologies Expand Reach with Lower Cost, Disruptive Services, April 2013, www.javelinstrategy.com
Around the world, Visa is driving financial inclusion and increasing financial literacy among the underserved through our products, services and network; strategic partnerships and educational programs. Visa also actively contributes to the global conversation about how to best address financial inclusion and meet the needs of the underserved. This week, Visa is joining leaders in the financial inclusion community for the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia in Myanmar, IDB Base II Forum in Colombia, and the 8th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum in the United States to discuss the global imperative to reach full financial inclusion.
This week the 8th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum is taking place in Miami, FL, and Visa is participating in several activities related to financial inclusion efforts across the U.S. Lisa McFarland, Head of Consumer Prepaid Products, presented on a panel dedicated to prepaid technology aimed at bringing more access and inclusion to the underserved population. Visa also co-hosted a thought-leader roundtable with CFSI discussing how recent technology developments are enabling prepaid products to serve as an even more effective tool for financial inclusion.
Financial inclusion is broadly thought of as an emerging market issue. However, individuals and small businesses across the U.S. face some of the same barriers to accessing financial services and education, which is why Visa works with partners across the country, including governments, to help support the financially underserved.
Prepaid products can serve as an onramp to other financial services and offer the unbanked security, convenience and wide acceptance. Approximately 40 states use Visa Prepaid products to distribute child support, unemployment and other social benefits, often to citizens who are underbanked. For example, the state of Ohio transitioned to prepaid card disbursements to help reduce the 1.3 million checks they issued each year. Today, check volume is less than .5% of the 2.3 million monthly recipient payments made by the state, reducing check-cashing trips, fees and the risk of carrying large sums of cash, while allowing financially underserved consumers to gain faster access to benefit payments.
In conjunction with these programs, financial literacy has been an important focus for Visa for nearly two decades, and our programs have helped educate millions of children and adults. Our flagship Practical Money Skills for Life program includes a robust classroom curriculum and interactive resources for parents and consumers. Visa has also partnered with several businesses to launch a unique employer-based financial literacy program to help workers with money management, and each year, Visa partners with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to hold the Financial Literacy & Education Summit.
Kiva, a nonprofit organization working to alleviate poverty by connecting people through microlending, is another U.S.-based partnership for Visa. Kiva City, launched by Kiva and Visa at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in June 2011, expands the availability of microloans for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs across the U.S. Earlier this year, President Bill Clinton helped kick off Kiva City Little Rock, the latest addition to the Kiva City initiative.
Contactless technology continues to expand globally, and the number of NFC-enabled devices in use is expected to top 500 million next year according to ABI Research. That’s exciting news, and we expect NFC and other chip-based technologies will help drive future payment innovations.
Visa payWave, our secure contactless payment technology, helps cardholders speed through checkout without having to make physical contact with a payment terminal through their NFC-enabled phones or their contactless cards. With Visa payWave, available globally on debit and credit cards and NFC-enabled mobile devices, a consumer simply holds his or her card or phone in front a contactless terminal in order to pay.
Visa payWave transactions are around three times faster than paying with cash, and they meet all the same security standards as traditional debit and credit cards. Every transaction is protected by multiple layers of security:
• First, Visa payWave-enabled cards and mobile devices must be in a specific position and within two inches of a merchant’s terminal in order for card information to be transmitted.
• Second, each contactless transaction includes a unique code that changes with each purchase – and it’s different from the one encoded on the magnetic stripe of a Visa card. So if a criminal attempted to use intercepted data to manufacture a counterfeit card, the bank that issued the card would be able to immediately identify the fraudulent transaction.
• Finally, because Visa payWave transactions are processed through VisaNet – the same reliable network as swipe transactions – we continuously monitor for suspicious activity, allowing us to help identify and prevent fraud.
As payment technology continues to evolve, so do our security measures, and NFC-enabled mobile payments are no exception. Several layers of security at the device, chip and the Visa network levels work in concert to help prevent unauthorized use of mobile-based Visa accounts. The technology that allows an NFC-enabled device to transmit transaction information wirelessly is only active during a transaction. Account data cannot be read wirelessly from the mobile device if the consumer has not activated the payment application and placed the device within inches of a reader.
Although Visa payWave has been used around the world since 2005, there have been no reports from law enforcement or financial institutions of fraudulent activity associated with contactless technology to date. Nevertheless, Visa remains vigilant in protecting cardholders.
As emerging forms of payment like Visa payWave continue to gain traction, Visa continues to invest in multiple layers of security to prevent, detect, and resolve unauthorized use of consumers’ information.
As both a sponsor and participant at the Center for Financial Services Innovation (@CFSInnovation) “Unbanked Financial Services Forum,” Visa was among the thought leaders from the public and private sector that gathered this week in Miami to address the challenges and opportunities related to financial inclusion in the United States.
According to recent FDIC statistics, while 72% of the United States population is “banked,” more than 34 million Americans are labeled as being “unbanked” or “underbanked.” Many of the panels at the forum focused on debunking myths and stereotypes and providing awareness and financial literacy to a population that spent $78 billion on high-cost “alternative” financial services like payday loans in 2011.
Visa’s Head of Consumer Prepaid Products, Lisa McFarland, participated on the panel “Mobile Remote Deposit Capture: The Present and the Future” alongside executives from Ingo (formerly Chexar) and Banking Up to take a focused look at how mobile remote deposit capture (mRDC) can be a potential game changer in meeting the needs of the underserved. “Consumers are motivated by access, and with mRDC we can address a critical pain point for consumers—convenient, cost-effective and instant access to funds,” shared Visa’s McFarland.
In her keynote address, CFSI President and CEO Jennifer Tescher (@JenTescher) drew an interesting parallel between changes in the health care industry to similar shifts in the financial services industry. In recent years, she noted that doctors and others in the medical industry have moved from treating sickness to a focus on promoting wellness. According to Tescher, as Americans plan for an uncertain future by managing their money and spending well, consumer financial “health” should be a priority for financial services-oriented businesses.
Visa wrapped up our participation at the Forum by co-hosting with CFSI a thought-leader roundtable moderated by Professor Michael Collins, Faculty Director of the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a member of the Advisory Board for the U.S. Financial Diaries project. The discussion focused on how recent technology developments may help further elevate prepaid products into the financial mainstream while also serving as an effective tool for underbanked consumers.