Visa Inc. is providing payment technology developers and mobile network operators with a clearer path to the Visa network.

The Visa Ready Partner Program, announced Feb. 22, allows providers access to Visa intellectual property, licenses and best practices as a way to more quickly get products certified for use in the Visa network.

"The pace of innovation in the payments industry requires a new approach that ensures innovative payment methods can be tested, approved and commercialized quickly," Jim McCarthy, global head of product, Visa Inc., states in a press release. (Visa did not respond to a phone inquiry by deadline.)

"While it is critical that we ensure new payment methods are secure and reliable, it is equally important to allow great ideas to become new ways to pay and be paid," McCarthy adds.

Visa says the program gives developers a protocol to follow to ensure devices and software used to initiate or accept Visa payments meet Visa requirements, which may vary by country.

The program also provides a framework for developers to collaborate with Visa in developing mobile point-of-sale acceptance technology, mobile NFC-enabled devices, and chip-related platforms, Visa says.

By working more closely with technology developers, Visa plans to make it easier for financial institutions and merchants to adopt new payment methods that have Visa approval.

However, the program probably shouldn't be viewed as a way to speed up conversion to EMV and Near Field Communication technology in the U.S., says Julie Conroy, senior analyst and fraud expert with Boston-based Aite Group.

"It has the potential to help with EMV conversion, but the challenge with NFC is still that there are not many mobile handsets with NFC capabilities," Conroy says.

Mostly, Visa's new program represents an extension of what the card brand offers technology developers with its online open application interface, Conroy says.

"It looks like that concept, and making more specifications available for speedier certification for those companies building [payments technology]," Conroy adds.

Visa says the program will use existing approval and certification processes from payments industry standards bodies and will rely on labs certified by EMVCo and the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SCC) to conduct testing of new payment solutions.

In addition, Visa is streamlining its compliance testing process for both mobile NFC devices and secure chips that host the Visa payWave application.

Visa has developed a "Visa Ready" symbol to identify payment technologies approved for use with Visa payments.

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