Visa Europe: Don’t Be Worried About Mobile Payments

visa pay

It’s time to stop scare-mongering on mobile payments, Visa Europe chief tells TechWeekEurope

The ability to pay for goods and services quickly and easily has long been a holy grail for many retailers, who have often been stuck with cumbersome or clumsy terminals and readers. But the growth of mobile and digital payments is rapidly transforming the way we shop, providing a simple and fast way to pay.

However, as with any growing trend, mobile payments have attracted some unwelcome attention, as criminals look to try and capitalise on customer adoption of an unfamiliar and possible insecure technology.

But just how safe is the infrastructure behind mobile payments? At Mobile World Congress last month, TechWeekEurope got to sit down with Visa Europe to find out more.

Time to change

Visa stand MWC 2016“I actually think it’s good for everyone to be a bit paranoid about payments…but it’s really bad to be a lot paranoid,” says Visa Europe’s SVP Sandra Alzetta when we meet in Barcelona.

Alzetta is keen for customers to stay on top of their security protection, but is not so happy about “unhelpful scaremongering” stories such as the one which surfaced last month about a rogue contactless payment skimmer on the Moscow subway.

Such stories, whilst primarily untrue and unable to work in real life, are extremely unhelpful when it comes to encouraging the adoption of services such as contactless payments, says Alzetta, acting as a barrier to people adopting new technologies that can really help them through security and convenience.

“Anything that stops people from doing that, and in an alarmist manner, is really unhelpful,” she notes, adding that contactless payments are far more secure than walking around with a wad of cash in your pocket, “there is other stuff that people should be worried about!”

“So many scams, unfortunately, are genuine…but continuing to educate people, as opposed to worrying about things that are irrelevant, is what’s important right now.”


Visa connected car MWC 2016Visa Europe is obviously keen to win people round to the benefits of mobile and contactless payments, as it saw the volume of contactless transactions made by its customers in the UK grow by 250 percent last year.

At Mobile World Congress, the company was keen to show off its latest payment methods, including a smart vehicle which is able to detect when it is running low on fuel before finding the nearest petrol station (pictured left), and a biometric solution that authenticates payments via finger-scanning.

And looking forward, Alzetta says that we should expect more to come from biometrics in the future.

“I think biometrics is really interesting – it’s definitely something that will continue to evolve,” she says, “all of these different user cases that we’re starting to see can be enabled in a way that’s easy and secure.”

“Biometrics needs to work properly and reliably, and it’s getting there – it needs to be safe and secure, and consumers need to be comfortable both using it and also in terms of where the data is being stored…I can see it becoming more important and available in the future, because it can work very well.”

All clued up on mobile payments? Try our quiz!