Visa wins banks, JB Hi-Fi and Cotton On for new digital payment system

Consumers are increasingly relying on micro-transactions to make purchases instead of inputting their credit card details every time, which makes a new product from Visa all the more powerful, one expert says.

Eventually, says Telsyte senior research manager Sam Yip, the risk of online transactions erodes to a point where consumers are happy to have their financial details tied to accounts – like in Apple’s iTunes ecosystem.

Which is exactly how Visa’s new product, V.me, works. The service, announced yesterday and planned for an Australian launch later this year, allows users to input a username and password instead of requiring credit card numbers for purchases.

Several banks are on board, including NAB, Westpac, ANZ, ING, Suncorp, Citigroup and several credit unions, along with retailers such as JB Hi-Fi and Cotton On.

In a statement, Visa country manager Vipin Kalra said the V.me service “streamlines the process” of purchasing, and allows anyone to shop from any device.

The service allows users to store existing Visa and other payment cards, store multiple shipping addresses and set transaction alerts, along with other customisable features.

The banks are certainly happy – ANZ general manager of cards and payments Marj Demmer said in a statement the Visa service “aligns with our digital focus”.

Yip says this is no surprise. These types of accounts allow for microtransactions, which end up being more profitable for merchants.

“If you look at the popular app stores, like Google or iTunes, people who have already embedded their credit card details into those online stores tend to buy more on impulse.

“These microtransactions are becoming much more profitable, they were more bite-size products a few years ago and are moving into big purchases over time.

“Being able to embed your details and have them be accessible is certainly the way to go.”

The popularity of such accounts is a good example of how the internet is making traditional requirements redundant. The phone number is quickly becoming a useless string of digits for younger users who rely more on instant messages – the same is happening with credit card details if these types of services take off.

As Yip points out, the risk is quickly disappearing. Over time, this could mean all online transactions are run through this type of account-based system.

“The risk is gone,” he says. “The controls are a lot better and these companies are handling fraudulent transactions a lot faster than even five years ago.

“A solution like this to minimise the path to purchase and maximise ease of use is certainly one new way to grow.”

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