Visa has agreed to buy marketing and payments company TrialPay as part of the card network's broader strategy to improve merchant relationships.

TrialPay partners with merchants to offer to cover the cost of a shopper's purchase from another merchant as an advertising lure. TrialPay charges its merchant partners a referral fee, which is used toward the "free" gift for the consumer.

As an example, a consumer could get a license to a software product in exchange for buying clothes from a retail partner. The terms differ based on the merchant or and the offer.

The acquisition, which is expected to close by the end of Visa's fiscal third quarter on June 30, fuels the card network's strategy of deepening its merchant relationships. The card network describes TrialPay as a means to improve its ability to deliver customized real-time offers.

"TrialPay will strengthen our loyalty and offers platform, which we expect to become a strategic and competitive differentiator that can help merchants build customer loyalty and increase sales in both the digital and physical retail environments," said Ramon Martin, senior vice president of merchant sales and solutions for Visa, in a Feb. 27 press release.

Visa hired Martin last year to lead merchant sales, following a push to more closely tie technology to merchant relationship management.

Visa and TrialPay did not disclose financial terms of the acquisition.

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