Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints


Sep 25, 2013

Secrets of Small Business Success Series: Insider’s Perspective with Ben Kaufman

We hope you’ve been enjoying Donna Fenn’s monthly video blogs. She recently chatted with Quirky’s CEO and founder, Ben Kaufman, on thriving in a culture of innovation where he offered his perspective and advice for striving entrepreneurs.

Janet – @jzablock


Quirky makes three new brand new consumer products every week so its founder, Ben Kaufman, knows a thing or two about innovation. Here, he chats with us about how to create a culture of innovation, how anyone can be innovative, and the single biggest threat to innovation.



Disclaimer: Practice recommendations are intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for legal advice. When implementing any new strategy or practice, you should consult with your legal counsel to determine what laws and regulations may apply to your specific circumstances. Visa makes no representations and warranties as to the information contained herein.


Posted by: Visa Corporate Relations Team on September 25, 2013 at 10:42 am

Sep 24, 2013

Secrets of Small Business Success: Failure Stinks, Long Live Failure!

Failure is never a fun feeling, especially when it’s your business. In our final post on ‘Nurturing your Entrepreneurial Spirit’,  Donna Fenn talks with the co-founder of Techstars, David Cohen, on failure and tips to help you navigate the waters.


Janet – @jzablock


Failure Stinks, Long Live Failure!

By Donna Fenn, Small Business Author and Expert


It took Thomas Edison 10,000 attempts to make the light bulb, each one bringing him another step closer to success.  “I have not failed,” he said, “I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” You may not have the stomach to fail 10,000 times, but you’d better get comfortable with the possibility of failure. I had a recent conversation on the topic with David Cohen, co-founder of the national incubator/accelerator program, Techstars. He’s seen plenty of failures in Techstars and experienced a couple of his own. Here are some highlights from our talk:

  1. Make sure there’s a market for your product. One of the biggest causes of failure is lack of market, says Cohen. “You build something that no one wants to pay for or use, and that comes from tunnel vision,” he says. Often, founders fall in love with their ideas and neglect to do the proper market research to ensure that potential customers will feel the same way. To avoid epic fail, do research, collect data, and force yourself to clear specific hurdles, such as number of  customers or users.
  2. Get the right team in place. The second big cause of failure is not having the right team to execute on your idea.  “So much failure happens because someone does not have the right skill set,” says Cohen.  Or you may start a business with your best friend, only to find that he or she makes a terrible business partner.  At Techstars, co-founders are asked a series of questions about their product, market, competitors, and pricing. “It forces arguments between founders,” says Cohen. “Techstars is an accelerator, and it can accelerate failure, too.” You’ve heard it before: if you’re going to fail, fail fast.
  3. There’s failure, and there’s failure. “If you get up in the morning and you’re frustrated and nothing is working and you want to hit the wall with your fist, that’s called building a startup,” says Cohen.  Short-term frustration is perfectly normal, he says, so don’t mistake a few bad days for a sign from the universe that you should give up. On the other hand, if you wake up feeling that way for weeks and you’re just not having fun anymore, then maybe it’s time to move on.
  4. Fail or pivot? Maybe industry or market shifts have changed the playing field, or perhaps your product or service just isn’t making the traction you need. Before you throw in the towel, take a deep breath.  “Entrepreneurs think about sunk costs too much,” says Cohen. Instead, he  says, ask yourself  “is there something more powerful we can do with the assets we have today?” Take a look at your physical assets, such as equipment and inventory, but also consider your intellectual property and the talent you have on staff, and ask yourself how they can be repurposed.

No one enjoys failing, but the good news is that failure often begets success. “My favorite entrepreneur to back is one that has succeeded and failed, in that order,” says Cohen. “You learn that you’re human and to play to your strengths. You learn from failure than from success.”

Disclaimer: Practice recommendations are intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for legal advice. When implementing any new strategy or practice, you should consult with your legal counsel to determine what laws and regulations may apply to your specific circumstances. Visa makes no representations and warranties as to the information contained herein.


Posted by: Janet Zablock, Head of Global Small Business, Visa Inc. on September 24, 2013 at 7:01 am

Sep 23, 2013

“The Financial Inclusion Feed”: A New Flipboard Magazine, Curated by Visa


2.5 billion people globally lack access to formal financial services.  In an effort to highlight the work being done by Visa, our partners and the broader financial inclusion community, we have launched “The Financial Inclusion Feed”, a new digital magazine hosted on Flipboard.

With 70+ million users, Flipboard is quickly becoming the largest platform for digital magazines.  Curated by Visa, The Financial Inclusion Feed will provide timely and relevant content covering financial inclusion from 400+ sources, including articles, research, event coverage, videos, photos and infographics.

To celebrate the launch, Visa’s magazine was featured on Flipboard’s homepage and highlighted in the “Big Ideas” section of Flipboard, which focuses on the work being done to solve the world’s biggest problems.

We invite you to read our magazine at To get started, download the free Flipboard app for iPhone/iPad in the App Store or on your Android device (Google Play Store) and search for “financial inclusion”.


Posted by: Lucas Mast, Visa Corporate Relations on September 23, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Sep 20, 2013

Visa Security Summit 2013: Mobile Payments Security Requires a Little More Effort

Guest blog by Brad Caldwell, CEO, SecurityMetrics

Mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) has the potential to forever change the interaction between business and consumer. Because of the low entry barrier to obtain a smartphone or tablet device, many companies now offer mobile as a way for consumers to process their card payment.

Mobile devices were initially developed for communication and convenience, not necessarily security. Now that devices organize the important details of business and private lives on wireless data networks, security is high on the consumer wish list and requires a bit of extra work to achieve.

Many businesses are enthusiastic and ready to implement mPOS. Although seemingly technologically advanced, smartphones and tablets aren’t created with the typical security features that have evolved in computers over decades of development.

As more and more merchants across the world use mobile devices to process customer payment transactions, hackers will continue to adapt their strategies to gain the most sensitive and profitable information from mobile devices.

Unless security precautions are taken, credit card numbers, personal information, and passwords entered, texted, or saved into personal and business mobile devices may be at risk.

Don’t despair. Though mobile security is in its infancy, there are proven methods to securely process via mobile devices. Here are five tips to help your mobile processing strategies stay one step ahead of hackers.

1. Use an encrypt-at-swipe piece of hardware that attaches to your smartphone or tablet to securely process payment cards. Perform due-diligence when selecting mobile POS hardware to ensure it supports encrypt-at-swipe.

2. Minimize manual key entry of customer’s credit card data, even if a card stubbornly refuses to be swiped! While your hardware card reader may encrypt sensitive information at-swipe, your phone does not have that secure capability. Manually-typed data is not encrypted, and a rogue app could be recording those card numbers.

3. Always update both OS and app software so any discovered security holes can quickly be patched.

4. Use discretion when downloading apps. Many pieces of malicious software infect mobile devices by acting as a Trojan horse inside an app. Even some apps that look legitimate may be infected.

5. Use a mobile vulnerability scanner. A mobile vulnerability scanner, such as SecurityMetrics MobileScan, can check a device for security holes that may grant access to hackers.

As an industry leader in securing payments, SecurityMetrics is on the security front lines providing the technology needed to protect mobile devices. Visit them at for more information.

SecurityMetrics is a sponsor of the 2013 Visa Global Security Summit.  Visit them at the SecurityMetrics booth during the event on October 2. For additional information on mPOS acceptance, Visa has published a list of mobile acceptance best practices, which can be accessed here or visit our website for additional information.


Posted by: Brad Caldwell, CEO, SecurityMetrics on September 20, 2013 at 11:14 am

Sep 19, 2013

Hotwire and Keep Summer Travel Going

With kids back in school and Labor Day behind us, September is a great time to snatch up last minute travel deals, and Hotwire and by Visa are now making it even easier to buy them. Using, busy travelers can find and book their favorite hotels at deep discounts using Hotwire and checkout with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Travel continues to be one of the most popular categories for eCommerce – 7 of 10 travelers booked their vacation entirely online last year.  And while eCommerce marks its eleventh consecutive quarter of double-digit year-over-year growth, it’s worth noting that according to comScore, 67% of online shopping carts are still abandoned before a purchase is ever completed.

Merchants recognize that simplifying check-out means reducing online cart abandonment, particularly as mCommerce transaction begin to gain in popularity.  Visa is helping #SavetheCart by offering to streamline checkout and remove the hassle of entering bill to, ship to and account information with each purchase, no matter your device.

Learn more about how people are booking their travel today in the infographic below.


Posted by: Kyrssa Guntrum, Visa Corporate Relations on September 19, 2013 at 9:50 am

Sep 17, 2013

Visa Security Summit 2013: Crowd-Sourcing a New Solution to Consumer Education

Did you know that consumers spend more than two hours a day in mobile apps? That’s nearly as much time as people spend watching television. Mobile devices are transforming how consumers learn and engage. When it comes to security, an engaged consumer is a more protected consumer. There are countless studies that have shown consumers who check their accounts online or take steps to monitor their credit report are less likely to be victimized by fraud and identity theft.

As consumer adoption of new technologies evolves, we are evolving our strategies and practices to ensure we’re reaching consumers in relevant ways. And that includes our efforts to educate consumers about payment security.

In April, Visa became a first-time sponsor of TechCrunch Disrupt NY, one of the nation’s top hackathon contests, which attracts more than 700 developers from around the world.  Developers were given 24 hours to create an app that would help consumers learn payment security basics. The event generated a number of creative ideas and lots of interest from developers.

Now Visa is showcasing this fresh thinking at our flagship security event, the Visa Global Security Summit. Two standout teams from Disrupt will showcase their ideas on stage at this year’s event. Attendees will then vote on which app will win the $5,000 Developers Challenge Award. You can preview information on both teams here.

With consumers being inundated with more information today than ever before, it is critical that we continue to find new and innovative ways to reach them with important security information. We’re excited to be tapping into the talent of the independent developer community to help expand our thinking on how to reach consumers via mobile.

We’re looking forward to seeing the demos showcased on October 2…and may the best team win!


Posted by: Jennifer Fischer, Head of Americas Payment System Security on September 17, 2013 at 11:16 am

Sep 16, 2013

Secrets of Small Business Success: Forging Great Strategic Partnerships

This month in our Secrets of Small Business Success series with Donna Fenn, we have been diving into the topic: ‘Nurturing Your Entrepreneurial Spirit’.  Part of keeping that spirit alive, means evaluating your partners. How do you know if they are going to add value as your business grows? This week, Donna looks at how to form tactical partnerships from the very beginning.


Janet – @jzablock


Secrets of Small Business Success: Forging Great Strategic Partnerships

By Donna Fenn, Small Business Author and Expert



A great partnership can save you time, make you money, and open doors that might otherwise remain closed. But strategic relationships can also be tricky, so it’s important for you to ask the right questions before entering into any agreement.

1.  Will the partnership provide comparable value to both parties?  “You have to strike a balance,” says Morgan First, co-founder of Second Glass, which creates “Wine Riot,” wine-tasting events geared toward twenty-somethings. “We find out what potential partners are looking for and what we can do for them for very little or for free.” One of Second Glass’s key strategic partners is Yelp. In exchange for 20 pairs of tickets to a daytime Wine Riot event (a time slot that rarely sells out), Yelp promotes the event via its newsletter and directly on the Yelp website and mobile app. First forged the partnership in Boston, when her company launched in 2006. “We now partner with them in all the cities where we do Wine Riot events,” says First.

2.  Are you legally protected? “My general rule is that there should be a written agreement for everyone who your company does business with,” says Rachel Rodgers, an attorney who provides legal counsel for entrepreneurs.  “One of the biggest things I’m always concerned about is intellectual property (IP). If IP is exchanged or created, who owns it?” You’ll also want to specify the exact terms and expectations of your agreement, including a start and end date, and any restrictions you or your partner feel compelled to place on the relationship.

3.  Is there synergy between your companies? When David Adelman launched ReelGenie, a company that helps families collaboratively transform online content and photos into videos, his plan was to entice users to come to his site to produce their custom videos. But then he discovered that partnerships were a more efficient path to growth. He’s now inking strategic agreements with social networking, photo sharing and family history sites that will offer ReelGenie’s video creation services to their own users. “We positioned ourselves at the end of the funnel to reach people who are already looking to create something,” he says.  “We give up some of the economics to our partners, but we get our name and our technology out there without spending money on user acquisition.”

4.  Are you getting the “halo effect?” Especially if you’re a  very small company or a startup, your customers will judge you by the      company you keep. A prestigious strategic partner will cast the glow of legitimacy on your own company and can open doors to new      opportunities.  Take Jordan Goldman’s Unigo,  a highly popular website that offers student-generated content on more than 6,500 colleges and universities. Goldman negotiated partnerships with  U.S. News & World Report to power the publication’s college reviews; The Wall Street Journal to produce custom content for students; and with McGraw-Hill to create college readiness curriculum for high school students. Those partnerships have helped make Unigo one of the largest resources for college information in the country.

So where do you find high-value strategic partners? Start by looking for companies that are in related industries whose CEOs have the same values as yours. And look to those who want something you have and who have something that you want.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like these previous posts, Smells Like Team Spirit and Put on Your Innovator’s Hat.

Disclaimer: Practice recommendations are intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for legal advice. When implementing any new strategy or practice, you should consult with your legal counsel to determine what laws and regulations may apply to your specific circumstances. Visa makes no representations and warranties as to the information contained herein.


Posted by: Janet Zablock, Head of Global Small Business, Visa Inc. on September 16, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Sep 11, 2013

Secrets of Small Business Success: Smells Like Team Spirit

Your company is growing and you need to keep your employees motivated. How do you do this? This week, as Donna Fenn continues diving into the topics of ‘Nurturing your Entrepreneurial Spirit’, she sits down with CEOs who to find out how they inspire team spirit among their employees.


Janet – @jzablock


Smells Like Team Spirit

By Donna Fenn, Small Business Author and Expert


Every business owner likes to think of his or her employees as great team players. But every team needs a great coach – someone who sets the tone, makes the ground rules clear, positions the players to win, rewards success and has a reasonable tolerance for failure.  So what are the best ways to foster team spirit in your growing company?

1.  Keep employees invested in success. At Select, a membership organization that offers discounts at restaurants, CEO Carlo Cisco can’t afford princely salaries, so he keeps his eight employees engaged and motivated by “selling our vision of the future.”  All employees have stock options in the startup. And Cisco keeps everyone apprised of the company’s progress with a big board that tracks both leads and sales. There are individual performance rewards, but options keep everyone focused on the overall success of the company.

2.  Do a happiness check.  Corey Blake, the CEO of Round Table Companies, which helps authors write books, gathers his eight-person team once a year and asks them what they love about their jobs and what they don’t like. “We help them to replace any aspect of their work that doesn’t create happiness,” says Blake. One team member, for instance, expressed interest in leveraging her background as a former teacher. So Blake assigned her the task of creating classroom materials related to the company’s books. “We want to inspire people about what’s possible within their roles,” he says.

3.  Don’t over-collaborate. At ‘ZinePak, which creates custom, interactive publications for brands, co-founders Brittany Hodak and Kim Kaupe found that when teams collaborate too much, projects can get bogged down and “become more about people’s personal likes and dislikes instead of about the client,” says Hodak.  So at the beginning of each new project, they started creating formal checklists of responsibilities for each employee so there’s “no confusion with multiple people feeling like they own something.” The result: everyone has a voice, but team members aren’t tripping over each other in the midst of deadline-sensitive projects.

4.  Connect your virtual team with tech tools. She Takes on the World is a media company focused on professional and personal development for female entrepreneurs, and its six-member team is all virtual. CEO Natalie MacNeil, who is based in Vancouver, connects employees in Canada, the UK, the Philippines, and the U.S. with a variety of tools. “We use Yammer like a mini-Facebook,” she says. “We can all talk in real time and it creates a social atmosphere.” She also uses Asana for simple to-do lists and to monitor progress on tasks and deadlines.  “It’s beautiful and simple,” she says. Both services have free versions, which are currently adequate for MacNeil. “I’d probably pay for the premium versions if I had more people,” she says. Lastly, she also takes advantage of Google Hangouts. “If we’re working with a consultant, the whole team can be involved in training on a Hangout,” she says.  She recently offered SEO training to her virtual employees.

Don’t assume that your team – even if it’s a just a team of two or three – will just naturally communicate and cooperate. It’s your job as CEO/coach to make sure that happens consistently and efficiently. Go team!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like last week’s post Put on Your Innovators Hat.

Disclaimer: Practice recommendations are intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for legal advice. When implementing any new strategy or practice, you should consult with your legal counsel to determine what laws and regulations may apply to your specific circumstances. Visa makes no representations and warranties as to the information contained herein.


Posted by: Erika White, Visa Corporate Relations on September 11, 2013 at 11:55 am

Sep 9, 2013

Visa Security Summit 2013: Focus on Responsible Innovation

Connecting the world’s commerce would be daunting without technology. It’s what generates purchase authorizations in about the time it takes you to blink. It’s what identifies fraudulent transactions in that same blink of an eye. And now it’s changing the way commerce is conducted.

Mobile devices and social networks are creating an always-on society where people can connect with each other and do business anytime, anywhere. We call this the “new normal.”  Unfortunately, the solutions that make it easier for us to connect with each other also make it easier for criminals to connect with us.

Can we use the capabilities of the new technologies to deliver a payment system that is safer than ever before? Or will these technologies bring opportunities to criminals that will challenge our security teams as never before? This is the crossroads we stand at today.

At Visa, we call the road ahead “responsible innovation.” It’s a two-part idea.

First, we must stay true to the principles that have made us successful, ensuring that every innovation comes with the same level of security that our stakeholders have come to expect. Our imperative must be to build security into every solution from the ground up, not after the fact. Otherwise, we risk losing the trust on which our business depends – trust that’s been built over decades.

Second, we must consider how new technologies are changing consumer behavior. Consumers are using the mobile and social world to open their private lives to friends and family in new ways. In so doing, they are also opening their personal details to others with darker intentions. Clearly, our second imperative must be to adopt security approaches that work in a world where nothing is certain to be private.

At this year’s Visa Security Summit, to be held on October 2 in Washington, D.C., we will bring together a range of speakers – elected officials, entrepreneurs, technologists, journalists and global development experts – to talk about this unique intersection of technology and security.

Please join us for one of the most important conversations on payment security!  And thank you to our sponsors, including Trustwave, SecurityMetrics and Kaspersky Lab, for helping make this dialogue possible.


Posted by: Ellen Richey, Chief Enterprise Risk Officer on September 9, 2013 at 9:00 am

Sep 9, 2013

Fans’ NFL Fantasies Fulfilled Through New Visa Campaign

This season, Visa is putting the power of creating exciting NFL experiences in the hands of the fans with “My Football Fantasy,” our integrated marketing campaign for the 2013 NFL season.

We’re giving NFL fans the opportunity to share with us their football fantasies using the #MyFootballFantasy hashtag on Twitter and Instagram for a chance to have those fantasies fulfilled throughout the season. Imagine having a top NFL coach teach football to your kids, teaching a superstar player a new touchdown dance or catching a pass from a Super Bowl MVP. Whatever the football fantasy, we’re listening, and we’re excited to see what Visa account holders come up with.

The campaign kicked off this weekend during Fox NFL Sunday with a television commercial featuring San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. Here’s a look at the spot:

Additional commercials featuring Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will appear throughout the season, highlighting the types of fantasies NFL fans could think up, submit and win.

To participate in the #MyFootballFantasy campaign, fans simply need to follow @Visa on Twitter and @Visa_US on Instagram, submit their football fantasy using the #MyFootballFantasy hashtag and use their Visa card during the entry periods. Fans may also enter via the MyFootballFantasy microsite. For complete entry details, including non-purchase entry, see the Official Rules at

In addition to the #MyFootballFantasy campaign, this year’s NFL marketing activities will include activating exclusive programs with our financial institution clients and select merchant partners, sponsoring 12 great NFL teams and continuing our Financial Football program, which helps high school students take control of their financial future with some help from NFL players. Visa’s online newsroom features additional information on Visa’s partnership with the NFL.

For more information about Visa’s NFL marketing campaign, please visit


Posted by: Alex Craddock, Head of North America Marketing on September 9, 2013 at 8:56 am

Category: NFL