Visa introduced a new digital payment system July 16 called Visa Checkout, replacing the V.me digital wallet that formally launched in 2012.
"Visa Checkout is a fast, simple and intuitive payments experience that allows consumers to pay for goods online on any device in just a few clicks," Visa CEO Charlie Scharf said in a presentation broadcast from the card network's new development center.
Visa was seeking "absolute simplicity" when establishing the new e-commerce checkout process, says Sam Shrauger, senior vice president of digital for Visa. Consumers click a Visa Checkout icon to enter payment and shipping information the first time they use the system, then they provide a username and password for subsequent purchases.
"Consumers don't want a wallet, per se, they just want to pay for something in a simple manner," Shrauger adds. In demonstrating how to order a pizza using Visa Checkout, Shrauger says, "this is literally a 10-second process."
The Visa Checkout website lists 103 merchants that accept the new system. Clicking on the links to their sites generates a notice that the merchant is "in the process of transitioning from V.me by Visa to Visa Checkout."
The V.me brand might have been confusing to users, since it's not as clearly tied to Visa's brand and its name also suggests it might be a person-to-person payment product ("Want to send me the money? Just 'V' it to me!"). The new "Checkout" brand comes with its own baggage; it was the name of an earlier Google payment service, which frustrated many merchants and was eventually absorbed into Google Wallet.
Visa Checkout competes with MasterPass, which is MasterCard's take on the digital wallet. MasterPass acceptance surged to "tens of thousands" of merchants a year ago through a pact with the online service provider Web.com (prior to that, MasterPass had 160 live merchants).
Visa's V.me has been a much more straightforward approach to digital payments compared to the card network's earlier efforts, such as Rightcliq, a short-lived service that aimed to be a complete shopping portal.
Rightcliq launched in July 2010 and shut down in November 2011, just two months ahead of the announcement of V.me. The concept behind Rightcliq was to re-build e-commerce from scratch, stripping away the pain points of the checkout process. Its two key features were a browser plug-in that pre-filled payment card data at merchant sites and a social networking component that allowed users to get feedback from their peers on any planned purchases.
Shortly after the product's launch, Visa updated Rightcliq's interface to make it easier for consumers to view coupons and track orders.
After Rightcliq shut down, Visa executive Jennifer Schulz said the product was "never a true digital wallet," but Visa still wanted to include the "sense of social shopping" in its digital payments strategy (Schulz left Visa in August 2013).
Many other payment companies have revised their branding and products to boost consumer appeal. Recently, the Isis mobile wallet committed to change its name to discourage consumers incorrectly associating it with the ISIS militant group.