Visa is rolling out a new transaction-notification service service today through the application program interface-based Visa Developer Platform the network unveiled last week.

Visa Consumer Transaction Controls provides a streamlined approach for Visa cardholders to easily switch real-time account notifications and controls on and off, instantly approving or blocking transactions on credit and debit card accounts through their financial institution’s mobile banking app, Visa said.  

Though transaction notifications aren’t new, the spending controls the service offers are new, and were previously available only to commercial cardholders, a Visa spokesperson said.

Consumers whose banks adopt the new service can click “Alert” or “Block” for transactions occurring online, internationally or over a specific dollar amount (either for individual transactions or overall spending). The transaction controls also include a “Location Confirmation” option for financial institutions that want to verify a user is indeed in a specific spot when making a purchase.

Users may opt to receive alerts via text, mobile app or email.  

Visa said its data shows consumers who receive Visa transaction alerts experience 40% less fraud.

For financial institutions, adding Visa’s new controls via the network's APIs should reduce development  and integration time from months to days, Visa said. The API platform also expands the types of services Visa is able to offer financial institutions.

Most large banks already offer consumers proprietary account notifications, and spending controls are growing in popularity, especially with branchless banking that emphasizes an app-based approach to managing personal finances, analysts note.

“Similar services have been around for years,” said Brian Riley, CEB principal executive advisor, pointing to Visa’s Buxx prepaid card available via U.S. Bank, Navy Federal Credit Union and others. Discover also touts the “Freeze It” function to instantly block or unblock transactions in case of suspicious account activity.

“Banks can certainly develop their own processes, but Visa’s option works with a relatively simple API connection, allow issuers to pass these services to customers in a very short term,” Riley said.

MasterCard said it’s offered a range of transaction notifications and spending controls for consumer and commercial cardholders for six years through its InControl line of services.

“We offer real-time alert APIs to 50 banks in more than 70 countries,” a MasterCard spokesperson said.

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