Smart Communications Inc. has secured an issuing and acquiring license from Visa for its Smart e-Money electronic payment business in Southeast Asia.

Smart e-Money is the first non-financial institution in the Philippines to receive a license that will allow the company to issue Visa-branded prepaid cards, acquire merchant transactions, and offer Visa Direct for domestic and international money transfers, Visa said in an April 14 press release.

The partners have already launched Charge2Phone, a Near Field Communication sticker to attach to phones for contactless payments at the point of sale. Users of Charge2Phone can also make online purchases with an 11-digit mobile number instead of a 16-digit credit card number.

Citibank Philippines supports Charge2Phone as the Visa card and NFC sticker issuer.

"With a large customer base and a strong presence across the country, we are pleased to partner with Smart to bring the benefits of electronic payments to even more Filipinos," Stuart Tomlinson, Visa's country manager for Philippines and Guam, stated in the release.

Smart Communications operates the wireless service for Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. The new license signals that the telecommunications company can pursue an "aggressive roadmap in pushing for a robust digital ecosystem," company chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan stated in the release.

"Digital is the new normal and mobile becomes the core of our everyday lives," Pangilinan added.

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