SAN FRANCISCO — Swiping a credit card is easy, and in its quest to make online payments just as easy, Visa announced today the release of a product called Visa Checkout.
It puts Visa plastic cards on the Internet through integration into merchants’ websites and mobile shopping apps. It’s similar to a prior Visa product, V.me, but we’ll get to that later.
The idea with Checkout is that if you want to do something like ordering from Pizza Hut online, you will be able to “check out” with Visa right from these merchants’ websites and apps. The credit-card company designed it to be simple and as quick as possible, only requiring a username and password to check out once you’ve registered.
People shop and pay for things all of the time, “but what they don’t want to spend their time doing is paying,” Visa senior vice president of digital solutions Sam Shrauger said at a press event.
“A lot of what was traditional e-commerce … is migrating either to the tablet environment or migrating to the small screen or the mobile phone,” he said.
It looks a lot like V.me, which Visa launched in late 2011 to compete with PayPal’s online payment tools. Checkout is a new incarnation of V.me, which the company said it learned a lot from, and is now replacing with the entirely re-engineered and redesigned Checkout. And just like V.me, Checkout lets customers store non-Visa cards as well, a bit as one does with PayPayl and other digital wallet-like products.
But Checkout is not a wallet, Shrauger said. It’s a digital representation of your Visa card, and the company even stressed how closely it’s worked to make even the branding feel like the classic Visa brand its customers are used to. When you check out online, a thumbnail of your Visa card shows up right next to the Visa Checkout button, for the express purpose of helping you feel comfortable.
“When you look at the real pain point for consumers … they don’t want a wallet,” Shrauger said. “They just want to pay and be done.”
This rings very true. A few months ago, during a small roundtable event American Express senior VP of digital partnerships and development Leslie Berland said that although American Express has experimented with mobile wallets, she has yet to find something that is not clunky and that’s “as easy as swiping.” American Express recently announced a partnership with ride-sharing company Uber that lets American Express cardholders using their card with Uber to earn extra points and even pay for rides with their points. This is exactly the sort of seamless and quick payment experience Visa is going for with Visa Checkout.
Competing financial services company MasterCard also recently launched its own product, MasterPass, on mobile to help MasterCard customers easily pay from within mobile apps.
On the security front, Visa said it’s committed to providing the same level of trust its customers always expect from it. While Shrauger didn’t give many specifics, including on whether “Verified by Visa,” its branding name for the 3D-Secure authentication protocol, will be part of the product, he did say the company will work hard over the next few months to make sure it has powerful security layers for Visa Checkout.
Today, Visa is also officially opening its new office in San Francisco where its top executive as well as certain technology-focused teams will be located. The press event took place at the new office.
Visa was founded in 1958 and is now headquartered in San Francisco.