Viewpoints

Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints

PERSPECTIVES ON DIGITAL CURRENCY

Sep 14, 2012

Digital Currency

Postcards from Russia: Innovating in Pastries and Payments

Today was another exciting day in Moscow, where the value Visa brings to merchants of all sizes came to life when I sat with the CEO of Correa’s restaurant chain. During an opportunistic interview, Ruslan Radjapov talked about how electronic payments are a key part of his restaurants’ past, present and future.

With one of its 9 restaurants and one of its 13 self-style “canteens” located in same office building as Visa in Russia, it was an obvious (and delicious) choice for a crew lunch on our first day. Thanks to our effervescent head of Corporate Relations in Russia, Karina Grosheva, we were introduced to Ruslan, who was more than happy to talk about the value electronic payments brings to his growing business.

Ruslan likes to think of Correa’s as a subtle and understated trail-blazer in the emerging Moscow food scene. Homemade Mediterranean-inspirited food in modern, yet inviting spaces has attracted rave reviews and, most importantly, a passionate and loyal customer base.  Part of their innovative approach to food, design and business was the early decision to accept Visa and other payment products.

In the words of Ruslan, accepting cards is all about “convenience…convenience for the customer who doesn’t need cash and convenience for us” since they can reduce their cash handling operations. From a standing start several years ago, Correa’s now processes somewhere between 25 percent and 30 percent of sales on Visa and other payment brands, according to Ruslan.

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Posted by: Richard Martin, Visa Corporate Relations on September 14, 2012 at 9:36 am

Sep 12, 2012

Postcards from Russia: Remembering Rubles

If you are like me and rarely, if ever, find the time to get local currency before you leave on a business trip, then the ubiquity of ATMs at airports around the world can give you valuable peace of mind.

As I exited the customs area in Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow , it was reassuring to see a multitude of local bank ATMs all bearing the Visa brand. We took this photo after a 15-hour trip from San Francisco to Moscow as part of our Currency of Progress video filming series. Fortunately I was not too jet-lagged to remember my PIN number and withdraw enough Rubles with my Visa card to get me to my hotel.

Over the coming days, we will be writing about our experiences here in Russia – from Moscow all the way to Sochi on the Black Sea.  We will try to capture a mix of Visa employees, senior government officials and regular consumers to tell the story of how Russia and electronic payments here are changing dramatically.

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Posted by: Richard Martin, Visa Corporate Relations on September 12, 2012 at 11:31 am

Apr 5, 2012

Digital Currency is the Future

More and more people are noticing the rapid shift from cash and checks to electronic payments.  Earlier this week, Canada announced it will withdraw the penny from circulation, citing high cost of production, transportation, storage and handling.  Just today, the New York Times hosted a debate on its website highlighting differing viewpoints on currency and how to “bring dollars and cents into this century.”  There are a number of interesting suggestions – including redesigning bills, eliminating the penny and replacing the text on coins.

One concept discussed – switching to a digital alternative – is already underway.  As you may have seen, we recently published a number of blog posts about the increasing benefits of moving towards a cashless society.  Among them was convenience, reliability, speed – but one of the most crucial advantages is security.  We take our cardholders’ security seriously, and have worked hard to protect them as more people turn to electronic payments as a way to exchange currency.  You can learn more about these security measures here.

We’re excited that so many people are getting involved in the debate on digital currency – and look forward to hearing more points of view.  We’ll definitely be talking more about it on the Viewpoints blog and hope you can join us .  What are your thoughts on the future of currency?

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Posted by: Erica Harvill, Visa Corporate Relations on April 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Mar 13, 2012

No Coins Required: Card-Enabled Parking Meters Grow in Popularity Nationwide

A recent article in the Washington Post noted the installation of forty-one parking meters in Bethesda, Maryland, that now accept payment via credit and debit cards, rather than just cash.  This reflects a growing trend of card-enabled parking meters popping up all over the country, from San Francisco to Los Angeles to Washington D.C.  It also speaks to the larger migration from cash to digital currency in the U.S.  Since 2000, electronic payments (including card brands) have increased share of personal consumption expenditure from 20% to 32% (CY 2010).[1]

Smaller municipalities have jumped on the parking-meter bandwagon as well, and some with significant gusto.  Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (population 74,900), recently added 300 card-enabled meters to their existing 100, partly as a result of consumer demand as the new parking meters have been the top request of downtown shoppers, according to the manager of the Downtown Bethlehem Association.  The city has certainly taken note:  according to Bethlehem Parking Authority Executive Director Tom Hartley, “the increased meter rates have more than doubled the authority’s meter revenues…the first two months of 2012 brought in $218,474 compared with $106,670 last year.”

The new meters require a capital investment, but as shown, they can provide more revenue than traditional meters because they are equipped with sensors that detect when cars pull out of a parking spot to absorb any unused time.  For drivers, it means less hassle looking for change to feed hungry meters.   

It seems the new meters are a win-win for all parties concerned, and that’s the kind of progress we support.  Learn more about the ways Visa digital currency is innovating to make transit more efficient for governments and consumers at Currency of Progress.


[1] SEC filings and press releases for card brands and IHS Global insight for PCE

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Posted by: Albert Coscia, Visa Corporate Relations on March 13, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Jan 13, 2012

Visa Innovators Make Progress a Priority

When people think of Visa, inventing may not be the first thing that comes to mind.  However, as one of the largest global payments technology companies, innovation has been key to Visa’s growth for more than 50 years.  This long standing commitment to progress has enabled more people in more places to enjoy the benefits of electronic payments across a wide spectrum of devices, platforms and channels.

Innovating keeps us at the forefront of the payments industry. Across the organization, at every level, employees are encouraged to invent better ways expand the reach and value of digital currency through new channels, devices and products. 

We talked to some of our inventors on camera to learn more about how innovation and intellectual property connects to our past and, more importantly, to our future.

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Posted by: Gary Bender, Visa IP Strategy & Management on January 13, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Dec 7, 2011

Creating Opportunities for Mexico’s Underserved

If seeing is believing, then my recent trip to Mexico re-opened my eyes to the real benefits of digital currency, particularly in the lives of low-income families around the world. During a whirlwind four-day trip, we captured the experience of Angélica Cruz Romero, who receives her government benefits on the Oportunidades Visa card, as part of the Currency of Progress video series.

Angélica lives in a modest home on the outskirts of San Juan del Rio, a city of 120,000 people in the state of Querétaro. She is one of millions of formerly unbanked or under-banked Mexican consumers who receives social benefits on a prepaid debit card that keeps her money safe and can be used anywhere Visa is accepted.

As part of the visit, we also interviewed Bernardo González, general associate director of Bansefi, the government-owned issuer of the Visa card. In the coming months, Bansefi aims to include all 6.5 million beneficiaries in the Visa debit card program as part of its long-term goal to reduce poverty by bringing more Mexicans into the formal financial system.  “This is absolute[ly] the door to financial inclusion,” he said.

For Angélica, receiving funds electronically gives her peace-of-mind, flexibility and the promise of a better life for her family. I’m very optimistic because I’m taking my children on the right path,” she said. “And this program has helped me a lot because I am heading in the right direction where I wasn’t before.”

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Posted by: Richard Martin, Visa Corporate Relations on December 7, 2011 at 3:58 pm

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

Oct 3, 2011

Currency of Progress Expands to Brazil

When Currency of Progress launched in the United States in 2009, we told the story of a Brazilian father – and passionate soccer fan – who could finally take his son to a match thanks to the safety and speed of ticketless entry at the stadium, powered by Visa digital currency. 

Today, Visa is launching a Currency of Progress website just for Brazil, providing Visa with a robust platform for communicating the benefits of digital currency to key local influencers. Brazil is the latest of six priority countries where we’re activating local sites, including India, Japan, Mexico, and Russia, with China planned for the end of the calendar year. We’ve also redesigned the Currency of Progress global website and developed supporting materials that tell the breadth of Visa’s story – from our impact on economies to the unique value of our global network, VisaNet.

We believe that when influential stakeholders see these stories – spanning the globe from India to Brazil to the United States – they will develop a deeper understanding of the important and positive effects Visa has on individuals, businesses and governments.

As stakeholders visit the site and learn more about Visa’s Currency of Progress, they will be able to understand the ways Visa is:

  • Supporting business by showing how Visa technology and payment products help merchants manage their cash flow, improve their bottom line and grow their business.  
  • Empowering people by giving individuals fast, convenient, reliable and secure access to their money, empowering them with the tools they need to live their lives.
  • Growing economies by facilitating the shift to electronic payments from cash and checks thereby delivering tangible benefits to economies.
  • Partnering with government to improve efficiencies and empower their citizens — from the distribution of benefits in digital currency to the procurement of vital goods and services electronically.  

Check out the latest stories at http://currencyofprogress.visa.com/.

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Posted by: Ruben Osta, Country Manager, Brazil on October 3, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Sep 29, 2011

Demand for Cashless Cabs in Chicago

Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune ran an article about the common practice of Chicago cab drivers only accepting payments in cash.  This is despite the city’s Passenger Bill of Rights that assures payments can be made with credit or debit cards.  In “Some Cabdrivers Ride Patrons Over Plastic,” the author shares her frustration with not being able to use her debit card which she prefers over cash and checks.  

The author’s desire to pay by card was echoed by Mike Levine, owner of the Yellow Cab Company in Chicago.  In the article, he mentioned that the biggest complaint he heard from riders was the difficulty of using credit cards for payment.  He went on to say that he’s made it his mission to put more card machines in the back of cabs.  He’s also encouraging drivers to accept cards in an effort to grow his business and gain a favorable reputation. Levine pointed out that drivers stand to earn bigger tips from card-paying customers, citing company research that shows credit card users tip about 18 to 20 percent, while those who pay with cash generally tip about 15 percent. 

The reluctance of some cab drivers in Chicago is a departure from the taxi experience in New York City, where payment cards are fully embraced.  Every taxi in the Big Apple has a terminal in its back seat, making payment transactions fast, secure and convenient.   This has led to a surge of new business for cab companies, as well as to better tips for drivers.  Check out our video to learn more.

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Posted by: Albert Coscia, Visa Corporate Relations on September 29, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Jul 6, 2011

MIGRATION WATCH: “As Plastic Reigns, the Treasury Slows its Printing Presses”

In an article titled, As Plastic Reigns, the Treasury Slows its Printing Presses, the New York Times reported that the Treasury Department has dropped the production of currency notes to some of the lowest levels in modern times. Production of $5 bills dropped to the lowest level in 30 years, and for the first time in that period, there were not any $10 bills printed. Further, the piece went on to conclude: 

“The meaning seems clear: The future is here. Cash is in decline.”

While the article points to several examples of U.S. businesses that have gone cashless, such as Commerce Restaurant in New York, Airlines and Manhattan taxis, we at Visa also see this trend taking place globally.

-       Hong Kong Taxis recently went cashless – eliminating the need for riders to fumble for cash. 

-       Indian Railways, the largest rail system in the world, brought fare payments online to reduce the interminable lines at train stations across the Country.

-       Small Indian businesses, ranging from high-end retailers to movie theatres, have started accepting cards citing security and convenience as key benefits.

As we continue to innovate new and better ways to pay and be paid, we believe the benefits of digital currency, like speed, security and convenience, will continue to accelerate the use of electronic payments around the world.

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Posted by: Will Valentine, Visa Corporate Relations on July 6, 2011 at 1:08 pm