V.me By Visa Wants To Establish Itself As E-Wallet Leader

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Visa Europe’s Tash Toothill says card provider’s scale and brand recognition will allow it to triumph in e-wallet space

It is predicted that by 2017, alternative payment methods such as e-wallets will be more widely used for online purchases than credit and debit cards.

Currently, PayPal is the most popular of these alternatives, but it is suggested that card-based e-wallets will account for a quarter of all online payments within the next three years.

Visa is counting on it and believes the scale it can offer banks, customers and retailers can allow it to become the dominant player in the e-wallet market.  E-commerce is becoming an increasingly important part of Visa’s business and last week it announced it had signed up 15 new European Internet Payment Service Providers (IPSPs),including Verifone, to its V.me e-wallet service.

‘Preferred’ payment method

Tash Toothill Visa Europe

Currently, V.me is used by 4,000 retailers, but Tash Toothill, Director Retail Engagement at Visa Europe, tells TechWeekEurope that its new partners will allow it to expand this to tens of thousands.

“Customers are really confident using Visa online and Visa is the most preferred payment checkout for retailers,” she says.

Toothill says that retailers are confident that they are going to be paid by their customers, who in turn are more willing to pay online with smaller, less familiar, companies because they know that their card details will not be shared with the merchant.

V.me is an online-only platform, it’s not a contactless or mobile payment system, but Toothill is confident that it will offer everything customers want. She explains that online shoppers want “frictionless payments” that involve one-click transactions and as entering as few details as possible.

Bringing scale

But how is it any different to PayPal, the current leading alternative payment method?

“Ultimately when you pay with PayPal, the majority of the time you’re paying with a Visa card loaded into your PayPal wallet,” Toothill says. “I think the difference we bring ultimately is scale. We’re bringing all the banks to V.me.”

Naturally, V.me supports Visa cards, as well as Mastercards, while support for American Express is being developed. Unlike PayPal, the banks will contact their customers asking if they want an e-wallet and its set up.

However Visa is only working with Nationwide in the UK at the moment, with its 4,000 retailers supported by the building society, however support from more should be announced in the “coming months.”

“We have commitment from the majority of the banks in the UK,” claims Toothill, who says Visa wants to make V.me “perfect” before it launches it as a mass-market service.

Visa v me 2

Growing competition

The support of the banks, and Visa’s protection guarantees, should encourage some customers to make the jump. But on online wallet in which all of your card details are stored is going to give some people security concerns – especially when transactions are so easy to make.

Toothill says this is understandable, but stresses that Visa has them covered.

“We invest about €100 million a year in security innovation,” she says. “We have multiple layers of security in place.”

Visa is not the only payment provider hoping to take advantage of the expected growth in alternative payment methods, with Mastercard also developing its own system, while PayPal is also looking to expand with PayPal Here, a service which allows businesses which traditionally deal in cash to accept card payments.

HSBC, First Direct, Nationwide, Santander and Metro Bank have all agreed to add the Zapp mobile payment system to their smartphone and tablet applications and Barclays ahs its own Pingit application.

Mobile operators are also keen to get in on the action with the Weve joint-venture formed by EE, O2 and Vodafone, but O2 Wallet shut down earlier this week after just 18 months on the market.

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