Visa Inc. and Visa Europe

Headquarters: 
United States, United Kingdom

The U.S.-based card company Visa Inc. and its separate bank-owned affiliate, Visa Europe, share a brand and intellectual property on contactless payments and NFC.

Like other payment-card schemes, they also, no doubt, share a frustration at the slow pace of adoption of contactless and mobile payment.

Visa saw its rival MasterCard Worldwide get off to a faster start in both the U.S. and in Europe for contactless cards four to five years ago, thanks to MasterCard’s more nimble approach. But Visa has closed the gap, and it has used its greater market share in Asia to develop contactless hotspots for open-loop payment in South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand, though MasterCard also has a presence in these markets.

Both Visa and MasterCard have been developing the U.S. contactless market, and most terminals accept both Visa payWave and MasterCard’s PayPass contactless applications, in addition to applications from American Express and Discover Financial Services.

But poor consumer awareness and the lack of broad acceptance of contactless cards at the retail point of sale have held contactless back. And neither Visa nor MasterCard has been willing to lower interchange and, therefore, merchant fees to try to expand acceptance.

Though MasterCard established a beachhead in Europe for contactless payment in Turkey in mid-2006, Visa Europe seized the initiative a year later with the launch of contactless payment in London with big British players Barclaycard. Along with Transport for London, they  collaborated on the “OnePulse” card, which combined contactless credit with transit-fare collection. Later in 2007, Visa Europe participated in an important NFC trial with Barclaycard and TfL. Barclaycard and parent Barclays, and to a lesser extent other UK banks, have since begun rolling out other contactless credit and debit cards, most with Visa payWave onboard. About 4 million Visa-branded contactless cards were on issue in the UK and 6 million throughout Europe at the end of 2009, according to Visa Europe. The card scheme said it expects that to double to 12 million by the end of 2010, mostly from continued rollouts in the UK, Turkey and Poland.

Still, as in the U.S., merchant acceptance is lagging in the UK. And unlike in the U.S, Visa Europe lowered interchange for contactless payments in the UK–albeit quietly. But that hasn’t yet spurred a tier-one retail chain to roll out contactless acceptance.

Visa later expanded to Turkey with payWave and a few other countries in Europe, but was outbid by MasterCard in France for open-loop cobranded payment cards issued by the banking arms of big hypermarket/supermarket chains Carrefour Group and Auchan Group. Both chains have aggressive contactless programs on tap, issuing cards carrying the MasterCard PayPass application and rolling out POS terminals to accept them.

Visa has tried to have a comprehensive approach to mobile payment, including introducing a couple of years ago a Visa-branded user-interface application for the expected rollout of NFC phones. It later backed off the idea, probably because banks complained the Visa brand would usurp their own brands on handset screens. In any case, the point has been moot so far because of the lack of NFC phones.

Visa Inc. participated in the “rollout” of NFC services launched in Malaysia in April 2009, but the mobile-payment and ticketing project has failed to take off for, among other reasons, the availability of only a single less-than-compelling NFC phone model in shops.

Visa has also tried to develop remote payment, transaction alerts and coupons on smartphones, as well as peer-to-peer payments and mobile money transfers. On the latter score, Visa in February 2009 earned the endorsement of mobile telco trade group GSM Association’s to offer mobile-money transfer services. Still, progress has been slow for Visa Inc. in developing mobile payments and mobile-money transfers the past couple of years, say observers.

Visa is also backing open-loop prepaid contactless stickers that U.S.-based processor First Data is attempting to rollout in retail chains in the U.S. Consumers can attach the stickers to the back of their phones or other devices and use them anywhere payWave cards are accepted. Initial sales, however, have not been brisk, said observers.

Key figures: 
Visa Inc.
POS Volume* Change Cards** Change
Asia-Pacific 636 2.7% 512 8.5%
Canada
155 -10.2% 31 0
CEMEA
78 12.3% 184
9.5%
Latin America
189 4.3% 344 4.9%
U.S.
1,621 0.5% 661 3%
Total–Visa Inc. 2,680 0.9% 1,732 5.5%
*In billions of US$  **In millions, credit and debit
Source: Visa Inc. For year ending in June 2009.
Visa Europe    
POS Volume* Change Cards** Change
Europe 856 3.7% 380.2 5.3%
*In billions of euros **In millions, credit and debit
Source: Visa Europe. For year ending Dec. 2009. 
PayWave Hotspots–Europe Contactless Cards
UK
8 million+
Turkey 1.1 million
Poland 150,000+
Figures as of June 2010
Source: Visa Europe

Visa Inc. Payments

POS Volume*

Change

Cards**

Change

Asia Pacific

636

   2.7%

    512

   8.5%

Canada

  155

-10.2%

      31

      0

CEMEA

    78

  12.3%

    184

    9.5%

LAC

  189

    4.3%

    344

    4.9%

U.S.

1,621

    0.5%

    661

    3%

Total–Visa Inc.       

2,680

    0.9%

  1,732

    5.5%

Key NFC Personnel: 
Bill Gajda, head of mobile, Visa Inc.
Erick Wong, head of mobile contactless, Visa Inc.
Sandra Alzetta Senior Vice President - Innovation, new product and channel development, Visa Europe
Mary Carol Harris, head of mobile, Visa Europe
Mark Austin, head of contactless, Visa Europe
Major NFC and Contactless competitors: 
Last Updated: 
Sep 2010
Author: 
Balaban

HEADLINE NEWS

In-Depth: Government Regulation of Mobility-as-a-Service Seen as Necessary to Encourage Widespread Adoption

Apr 16 2020

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Government legislation will likely be needed for widespread adoption of Mobility-as-a-Service, or MaaS, to occur, according to UK-based Juniper Research, which believes that the regulations will be necessary to force MaaS providers, including transit service providers, to work together, as well as to persuade users to get out of their cars to cut carbon emissions.

Apple Pay Expands Support for Interoperable Closed-Loop Transit Cards in China, Though Not First NFC Pays Wallet to Do So

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple on Wednesday expanded support for closed-loop transit payments across China, incorporating China’s T-Union interoperable transit cards in its Apple Pay service.

Insight: Virus Adds Urgency to Increasing Contactless Limits but Won’t Necessarily Drive Growth in Acceptance

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – While the Covid-19 virus outbreak is building awareness for contactless and NFC payments and is accelerating the increase in already low contactless transaction limits in Europe, it remains to be seen how much it will convince more merchants to accept contactless in the U.S.

Exclusive: After 10 Months, Sales of Public Transit Tickets in Uber App Still Make Up Small Share of Mobile Ticketing in Denver

Mar 24 2020

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Since last May, when ride-hailing service Uber officially began enabling customers to book and pay for public transit tickets in Denver directly in the Uber app, use of the service remains relatively low, accounting for less than 3% of all mobile tickets purchased by customers of Denver public transit agency RTD, NFC Times has learned.

Former Garmin Pay Technology Providers Sue Device Maker Claiming Unpaid Millions, Though Offer Scant Proof of Claims

NFC TIMES Exclusive –  The founders of former payments wearables provisioning company Fit Pay, which was acquired last September for $3.3 million by smartwatch and fitness band maker Garmin, have sued the device maker and two other parties, claiming they are owed millions in missed earn-out payments.

Helsinki to Roll Out Multimodal Contactless EMV Fare Payments, with Plans for Daily and Weekly Fare Capping

Mar 12 2020

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The Helsinki Regional Transport Authority plans to accept contactless EMV payments on its multimodal system, including its buses, metro, trams and ferries. The rollout, expected to be completed in 2023, will also support daily and weekly fare capping.  

Transport for London’s Lucrative Sponsorship Deal with Google Shows Value of ‘Point of Sale’ Real Estate at Fare Gates

NFC TIMES Exclusive insight – Transport for London’s recent deal with Google to put the Google Pay Logo on more than 5,600 contactless gate readers across the large London Underground network is not the first time that the London transit authority has rented out its prime payments real estate to sponsors. Nor is it the only transit agency that has profited from sponsorship deals tied to its contactless EMV transit payments services. 

Amazon Launches Largest Checkout-Free Store; Clerks and POS Terminal Vendors Need Not Worry…Yet

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Ecommerce giant Amazon expanded its no-checkout concept to its first “full-sized” supermarket Tuesday, in its headquarters city of Seattle, enabling shoppers to scan an app upon entering, pull products off of shelves and “just walk out,” with hundreds of cameras and numerous sensors having recorded everywhere the shoppers went in the store and everything they put into their shopping carts. A card on file in the app is charged as the customers leave.

Czech Banks See Growing Use of NFC Wallets with Smartphones and Wearables for Contactless Payments

Feb 18 2020

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Banks in the Czech Republic say they are seeing significant and growing use of NFC-enabled smartphones and wearables, ranging from 6% to nearly 25% of all contactless payments–three banks told NFC Times–although a large majority of consumers continue to tap their contactless cards, not NFC devices, for in-store payments.

Brussels Transit Operator Sees Need for Global Interoperability of Fare Payments; Compares Benefits to Mobile Roaming

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The head of information systems for a major European transit operator says he believes public transit agencies should support interoperable fare payments globally, like mobile network operators offer roaming when their customers travel abroad.

Oyster Card Here to Stay Despite Strong Growth of Contactless Fare Payments in London

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – As more and more transit authorities globally seek to emulate Transport for London’s success in gaining widespread adoption for contactless open-loop fare payments, they should take note that London’s closed-loop Oyster card remains popular, even among visitors to the city.

In-Depth: Tokenization Figures Demonstrate Majority of Mobile Payments Conducted Online

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight –  Recent research and forecasts have confirmed what industry observers already knew: Despite concerted efforts by the Pays wallets to gain widespread use of mobile payments in the U.S. at the physical point of sale, the large majority of mobile payments are conducted online, not by tapping NFC phones or wearables in stores.