Visa acquires Rambus tech portfolio to expand tokenization reach

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Visa has agreed to acquire token services and digital ticketing technology from Rambus Inc. in a move the card brand says will expand its tokenization security beyond Visa cards into other networks.

The transaction, subject to regulatory approvals and the contract closing, will combine the Visa Token Service with the local account tokenization used through Rambus to operate on domestic card networks, account-based and real-time payments systems.

Visa has partnered with Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Rambus previously for account-based and non-card payments. In the past year, Rambus has provided tokenization services to protect Automated Clearing House and other real-time payments networks.

Rambus, which advanced from protecting data to more recently adding tokenization to retail mobile payments, acquired BellID and Ecebs in 2016 to provide the technology for that transition and for mobile ticketing security. Visa is acquiring those BellID and Ecebs portfolios.

BellID specialized in Near Field Communication chips and cloud-based NFC security, while Ecebs focused on mobile ticketing.

“Facilitating safer, more secure digital transactions is core to Visa’s brand promise and central to growing electronic payments for everyone, everywhere," TS Anil, senior vice president and global head of payment products and platforms for Visa, said in a Tuesday press release.

"As the way people and businesses pay and get paid continues to evolve, the addition of Rambus’ technology will allow us to deliver greater security beyond the card to support more transactions, payments systems and participants,” Anil said.

Card networks have viewed tokenization, or the process of replacing payment card numbers with a sequence of random, unrelated numbers or letters, as one of the most effective ways to reduce fraud and secure card payments at the point of sale, online or for stored credentials.

Since launching Visa Token Service in 2014, the card brand says it has scaled the technology across 100 markets and is providing the capability to 90% of Visa's total payment volume.

“Rambus payments and ticketing solutions are at the forefront of tokenization technology,” Jerome Nadel, senior vice president of payments and ticketing and chief marketing officer at Rambus, said in the release. “Joining forces with Visa as a payments leader will allow the group to scale technology and capabilities to deliver new products and services to the market, while continuing to partner with existing customers.”

Beyond tokenization, the companies say that Rambus’ digital ticketing portfolio and expertise in transit will complement Visa’s global transit and mobility solutions for public transit operators, technology partners and cities around the world.

Visa has nearly 250 transit projects underway around the world, and the card network says it will continue to support public transport operators, clients and partners to deliver new forms of acceptance and mobility solutions in order to help improve passenger experience.

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