Visa Inc. is making several moves to demonstrate that it is willing to adopt new payments products on the Visa network. These moves include its Visa Ready Partner program for developers and its growing mobile payment partnership with Samsung.
Visa Ready Partner is meant to provide developers with a clear way to meet Visa's requirements for new products in each region. This, in turn, should make it easier for financial institutions and merchants to work with new payment technology providers.
In an interview with PaymentsSource, Matt Dill, head of global business development and emerging products for Visa, provides a deeper look into the Ready program and what it says about the card brand's future. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
PaymentsSource: The Visa Ready Partner program seems to send the message that the card brand does not view outside technology developers as “disruptors” to the current networks. Is that an accurate interpretation?
Dill: We do not view them as disruptors. These are companies just trying to make things easier for consumers and networks. As such, Visa Ready is a program for the payments enablers. We want to make it easier for them to play a role. We want to guide and support their efforts and have them work with Visa.
PaymentsSource: It sounds as if the new program essentially leaves the door open for any type of technological advancement.
Dill: Two things are ready to scale big-time – [Near Field Communication] and payWave [contactless] verticals, and [mobile point of sale] protocols and standards. We can add more technology over time to drive and grow the payments ecosystem. The key message is to work with us, and I believe tech developers will look at it the same way.
PaymentsSource: Do you see this, in any way, as representing a change in Visa philosophy from the past?
Dill: We are not a plastic company; we are a numbers company. We look at how a transaction occurs. The Visa model started as a standard method to communicate payments over a network, and it was meant to be a democratic system, with the fundamental message being a 16-digit account number. First it was on paper, then it was on plastic cards, then it came with swiping [magnetic stripe cards], then with a computer chip [embedded in card].
PaymentsSource: Looking at it that way, a world without plastic cards would not fundamentally change how the network does business. Is Visa prepared for a payments world in which technology can change monthly?
Dill: Internet was a big enabler [for card not present] in changing payments. But for Visa, it was an understanding of who we are as a numbers company (in accepting payments without plastic). … We worry less about form factor and more about guidelines and standards that maintain the confidence in the system. It’s not about plastic; it’s about efficiency and communications.
PaymentsSource: Does this open-door model for new technology in any way counter Visa’s migration stance and deadlines toward the EMV chip-card standard and NFC contactless payments in the U.S.?
Dill: EMV and NFC are current form factors and represent requirements we need to have to maintain confidence in the system. We try not to get caught up in what it means and doesn’t mean for future technologies. A new technology has to be ready for scale. It has to be reliable and scalable. NFC is capable of scaling quite broadly and it has extreme utility.
PaymentsSource: In Visa’s view, what key traits do payment technology developers have to bring to the table?
Dill: We don’t want to stifle ideas, but scale is the key. Anyone can do a demo [of new payments technology], but can they roll it out on a global basis? We have created a network on a grand scale and want to help enable new technology to become part of it. We have the potential to bring in new technologies in payments and bring them to scale.