As mobile payments migrate beyond smartphones, Visa is offering Visa Ready to manufacturers of wearables, automobiles, appliances and other connected devices.
"It is a natural progression for Visa with all of the technology that is coming out with payments providers offering one-click payments such as PayPal and Amazon," said Jaclyn Holmes, senior manager of payments insights for Auriemma Consulting Group."Other technologies are trying to determine how to fit into that picture."
Vise hopes to attract companies that provide Internet of Things [IofT] applications to the program, which already includes mobile device manufacturers, mobile POS providers, Near Field Communication device manufacturers and other tech providers already in the program.
Visa launched the Visa Ready Partner Program three years ago as a way for payment technology providers and mobile network operators to obtain faster certification to the Visa network.The program allows companies to integrate secure payments to products and services through access to Visa's Digital Enablement Program and the Visa Token Service for mobile and digital payment tokenization.
“More and more, consumers are relying on smart appliances and connected devices to make their lives easier,” Jim McCarthy, executive vice president of innovation and strategic partnerships at Visa Inc., stated in a Feb. 21 press release. “By adding payments to these devices, we are turning virtually any Internet connection into a commerce experience – making secure payments seamless, and ultimately more accessible, to merchants and consumers.”
Visa's move comes at a time when the payments industry is poised to have major roles in a connected world in which merchants and consumers communicate in various ways and initiate and accept payments. Technologies such as Bluetooth Low Energy, wireless services, retailer apps and mobile wallets will all have roles in an IofT landscape. Security concerns are likely to mount as the Internet of Things expands, putting Visa in a strong position behind its tokenization and other security services.
The automobile and wearables industries will likely take time to have an impact in the payments arena through consumer adoption, Holmes said. However, Visa's announcement at Mobile World Congress and any other similar moves by the card brands could become a key driver in the future, she added.
"Apple Watch is a driver for Apple Pay right now, but it is a small number of users," Holmes said. "Apple Pay is not a driving reason why people want the Apple Watch, but those who have the watch use Apple Pay because it is so seamless."
In that scenario, it becomes clear that "very tech savvy" consumers are the first to adopt wearable payment technology, but that could change over time, Holmes said. "If someone can do it successfully and get the consumer on board with it as something other than just being nice to have, it will definitely catch on."
Based on Visa's active month, it appears to be placing bets that it can be the driver to such merchant and cardholder adoption.
In the past two weeks, Visa also opened its network to third-party app developers for the first time in its history with Visa Developer.
The card brand also revealed Visa Consumer Transaction Controls, a new transaction-notification service for cardholders made possible through the Visa Developer platform.Initial Visa Ready partners from the IofT field include Accenture, Coin, Giesecke & Devrient, Fit Pay and Samsung, who will work with device manufacturers, including Chonos and Pebble, to help embed secure payments in consumer devices to be certified as Visa Ready.
“This is the type of secure, frictionless payment enabler that we are looking to include in commercial solutions as clients start experimenting with how best to take advantage of the IoT,” Anand Swaminathan, managing director of growth and strategy for Accenture Digital, stated in the Visa press release.
Accenture has various initiatives in place that could integrate with Visa's tokenization service and make IofT-enabled payments easier for consumers "across any number of situations," Swaminathan added.