Visa Inc. continues to bolster its V.me digital wallet service, announcing that 50 more banks and credit unions will adopt the service.
But while the Visa brand name was a sure bet to secure issuer and merchant support, the key for V.me’s success still rests firmly in hands of consumers who have numerous options available for mobile wallet use when shopping online.
Visa is confident on that account as well.
“We believe consumers are comfortable with, and trust, the Visa brand,” says Jennifer Schulz, global head of e-commerce for Visa. “On a recent comScore consumer survey, Visa is at the top for trust for digital wallets.”
Mainly, Visa predicts “a big need at the holidays” for a service that makes online shopping easier, Schulz says.
“E-commerce is huge during the holidays, and there is a lot of friction with e-commerce through a mobile phone,” Schulz adds. “There can be as many as 40 fields to fill out [for online shopping], and that makes it prohibitive to do on a mobile phone.”
Visa introduced V.me last year as a way for online shoppers to avoid repeatedly entering account numbers, bill-to and shipping-to information during checkout.
The card brand seemingly has brought V.me along at a steady pace, rather than rushing it to play catch-up with competing mobile wallets. Also, compared to an earlier Visa product called Rightcliq, V.me is a more streamlined and straightforward approach to digital payments.
Schulz chose not to comment about any timing strategy Visa may have had in its V.me rollout, but those in the mobile wallet development game have said securing issuers is the most time-consuming part of the process.
Visa’s pitch has always been that V.me would change the way consumers conduct online shopping, mainly because accountholders can make online payments and complete checkout with V.me simply by entering a username and password.
Yet, PayPal and Google Wallet also allow users to make online purchases by typing just an email address and a password. Unlike those other accounts, V.me doesn’t pass any funds through a stored-value account or a virtual card — the card that users link to V.me is the card the merchant sees, even if it is not a Visa card.
Visa predicts that this week’s addition of more than 50 financial institutions allows the card brand to pitch its easy enrollment for the digital wallet service to as many as 55 million cardholders. Cardholders who sign up for the V.me service can enroll their Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express cards in the digital wallet to begin shopping online from a personal computer, tablet or mobile phone, Visa says.
However, what Visa really needs is a major e-commerce company stating that the only way to pay for its products is through V.me, says Richard Oglesby, senior analyst and mobile pay expert with Boston-based Aite Group.
In that way, Visa would have a partner similar to what PayPal enjoys with eBay and Google Inc. enjoys with its Android handsets and devices, Oglesby says.
“The Visa brand is going to make progress with banks and merchants, but the big question remaining is how to get the consumer engaged,” Oglesby says. “Consumers have a variety of options, so who are they going to check out with?”
Asking a lot of consumers to change their online shopping habits and behavior is a difficult task, Oglesby says.
“A number of competitive alternatives already exist and, essentially, Visa is starting from zero,” he adds.
Last month, Visa announced its first issuer partner, PNC, which offers V.me to users of its Virtual Wallet online checking and savings accounts.
Visa's current list of financial-institution partners includes A + Federal Credit Union, Affinity Bank, Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, Alliant Credit Union, America First Credit Union, Arvest Bank, Bank of Tennessee, BB&T, BBVA Compass, Cabela's World’s Foremost Bank, Capitol Federal Savings Bank, Citizens Equity First Credit Union, Commerce Bank, Commonwealth Credit Union, Community Credit Union of Florida, Credit Union of Colorado, CSCU, Deere Employees Credit Union, Digital Federal Credit Union, Directions Credit Union, First Financial Bank of Ohio, Greater Texas Federal Credit Union, IBC Bank, ICBA, Listerhill Credit Union, Members 1st Credit Union, Mercantile Bank of Michigan, Meritrust Credit Union, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, Motorola Employees Credit Union, New Mexico Educator Federal Credit Union, Patelco Credit Union, Pentagon Federal, PNC, PSCU, Royal Credit Union, SCE Federal Credit Union, State Employees Credit Union of Maryland, StellarOne Bank, Susquehanna Bank, Synovus Bank, TCF Bank, The Members Group, Union Bank & Trust, University Federal Credit Union, U.S. Bank and Xceed Financial Federal Credit Union.