Visa Europe's London Lab Nurtures an Apple Store Vision

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Visa Europe would like to be where Apple Inc. is — at least in terms of its technology and product development.

In opening the Visa Europe Collab in London this week as a center for startups to collaborate with payments industry players to convert concepts into products, Visa Europe keeps that Apple vision in mind.

"We want to create an open platform, like Apple, essentially creating a Visa Apple store," Steve Perry, founder and co-creator of Visa Europe Collab, said in a video interview posted online by Visa Europe.

Visa Europe Collab will give technology developers the "reach and credentials" to operate within an open system, Perry added. "It is to simply nurture them and offer them anything we can to get them [and their products] in that Visa store."

Visa Europe has made overtures in the past about industry collaboration as the best approach to technology. Visa Europe executive director Jonathan Vaux told PaymentsSource in March that competition is holding back innovation.

Visa Europe Collab will formalize this philosophy of collaboration to develop payment products for all Visa Europe members and partners.

"Because of our reach, it is very important that we bring together all of the stakeholders, the innovators, the startups, our member banks, the retailers and government entities," Perry said. "I really see us as being the glue that binds this together."

Visa Europe is a member bank and service provider organization that partners with Visa Inc. but operates as a separate organization concentrating on electronic payments routing and security technology. Visa Europe members issue payment cards, acquire retailers and determine cardholder and retailer fees.

Visa Europe is part of a growing trend of financial service providers seeking ways to get closer to technology startups, said Zil Bareisis, a London-based senior analyst for research firm Celent.

Building research incubators or accelerators is one way to accomplish that, Bareisis said. Another way is to directly invest in or acquire these startups.

"The days when all innovation could happen inside one organization are gone," Bareisis said. "The winners will be those that can make the best use of a broad ecosystem of partners."

The Visa Europe Collab will launch in London, and the organization plans to have similar hubs in place in Israel and Berlin by the end of 2015.

Partners in the Collab include design agency Seren, Cass Business School, and Digital Catapult.

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