Visa Digital Wallet quickens mobile payment race

Close-up of a Visa card logo.

Visa wants to make mobile payments your payment method of choice. (Photo Credit: CC BY/MoneyBlogNewz/Flickr)

Paying with cash, check or credit is almost completely passé now, if you believe the hoards of iPhone and Android supporters. Yet the move toward a cashless society may be closer than we think, thanks to Visa. Wired reports that the credit card company will debut Visa Digital Wallet via smartphone for retail electronic point-of-sale locations by Fall 2011.

Near Field Communication technology is the key

Visa’s Digital Wallet announcement will no doubt bring additional urgency to the mobile payments race. Credit card companies, retail businesses and consumers have looked forward to the day that a convenient wave of a phone could complete a transaction. With secure Near Field technology short-range communication, that day is almost upon us.

“The widespread adoption of Internet and mobile technology is changing the way people connect and transact across the globe,” said Visa chairman and CEO Joseph Saunders in a statement. “We’re focused on delivering locally tailored payments products and services.”

Visa Digital Wallet: Driving consumer behavior

Experts predict that not only will NFC technology make mobile payments the preferred method of transaction, but other technology that Visa and others are developing will streamline the one-click shopping experience online and allow consumers to consolidate accounts from multiple financial institutions in one place.

In this and other ways, Visa is becoming more of a commerce-focused technology company than ever before.

“When you think about what’s impacting commerce, you have one overarching trend: the continued adoption of electronic forms of payments,” said Visa executive Jennifer Schulz to Wired. “People are migrating away from cash and check and using electronic capabilities. … We’ve seen the use of and ubiquity of mobile devices really driving consumer behavior.”

Google is in hot pursuit

According to, Google plans to launch its own mobile payments service within the next few months. Retailers that use cash registers developed by VeriFone Systems in New York and San Francisco will benefit from the NFC-backbone system. Increasing numbers of Android smartphones will begin to support the NFC standard, as will either the iPhone 5 or future rendition of the iPad, per reports.

Banks lining up to partner with Visa Digital Wallet

U.S. Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and PNC Bank are just a few of the big-name financial institutions that will be throwing their hats into the ring with Visa on the Digital Wallet project, says Schulz. More partners are expected to be announced before the fall launch.


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