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Innovations and Payment Systems

Visa outlines plans for cell phone credit cards

Summary

The president and CEO of Visa announced investments and partnerships that will help the company move ahead with the concept of using cell phones like a credit card or debit card.

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In a keynote speech at the CTIA Wireless trade show on March 28, 2007, Visa USA President and Chief Executive Officer John Philip Coghlan said his company will make investments and establish partnerships with technology firms to move forward with the concept of using cellphones like a credit card or debit card.

Coghlan called the uniting of cellphones and payments “inevitable,” based on the similarities between the two industries.

Both the wireless and financial industries would benefit from enabling consumers to use their cellphones like a credit card in order to make purchases.  For wireless carriers, it would represent another way to potentially garner revenue through taking a percentage of the transaction.  Meanwhile, credit card issuers expect the addition of a payment feature on cellphones to spur increased transactions.

Visa hopes that its mobile platform will join the two sides.

Coghlan outlined the steps the steps Visa is taking to develop mobile payments, including the recently publicized Visa mobile platform.  Visa’s mobile platform consists of a collection of mobile services and enabling technologies that function as flexible building blocks for the creation of mobile payment solutions by the financial services and mobile telecommunications industries.

Visa is investing in privately held mobile software firm Ecrio and Irish consortium dotMobi, which is working to create a .mobi domain name for mobile websites.  Additionally, Visa is partnering with Qualcomm and Kyocera to produce phones that can make mobile payments, with Verisign supporting Visa’s mobile platform as another partner.

Mobile payments depend on technology known as near-field communication, which is found on so-called “smart” credit cards.  Such credit cards feature a chip that lets a consumer wave their plastic in front of a scanner to make a transaction, as opposed to swiping their credit card or keying in a code.

Visa’s investment in Ecrio will support development of near-field communications technology, as well as mobile barcode redemption, or MoBeam, technology that allows handsets to beam barcodes to laser point-of-sale terminals.

Coghlan also announced the results of a Visa survey that focused on consumer attitudes regarding mobile payment.  Among the highlights of the survey, 64 percent of respondents aged 18 to 42 said they would consider switching mobile carriers to access mobile capabilities, with 58 percent saying they would consider switching financial institutions.

Visa’s chief executive said that such results indicate younger consumers want both the freedom and functionality of a mobile phone and the security, convenience and ease of paying by debit card or credit card.

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