Visa CEO Joseph Saunders has just let loose that the company will be unveiling its mobile payments strategy as soon as next week. The mobile payments space is still a hazy area that many large companies are just beginning to explore. But generally the goal seems to be to replace consumer wallets with mobile devices for making purchases and then get control of that payment network to monetize it via transaction fees or advertising partnerships.
It’s hard to predict what Visa’s strategy for mobile payments will be as they’ve remained quite mum about it. But they have been heavily pouring money into the space, recently investing in Square, the mobile merchant services company, whose device lets customers accept credit card payments via their smartphones. They also partnered with Gap in a program that alerts customers of discounts on jeans and apparel via text messages when the customer is in the vicinity of a Gap retail store.
“We’ve been reluctant to talk about it until we have put together…an appropriate [response], where we can tell you something positive and significant,” said Saunders. He also believes that for their strategy to be viable, it must address five characteristics: Convenience and simplicity, standardization, interoperability, global accessibility, and security.
“None of the solutions we have seen from competitors is comprehensive enough because they don’t address all of these criteria at once. Visa has long delivered solutions at the physical point of sale that passed this test and we are applying the same standard in the online and mobile arena,”
This feels a bit like a slap to the face for the competing ISIS mobile payment venture formed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. ISIS started off with bold claims to completely replace credit card networks with their own mobile payment network, but recently scaled back those ambitions. Another contender in the space, but with a more modest approach, is Google, who has already deployed trial programs for NFC-based Places and coupons.