In July 2013, Visa provided multiple updates on the success that the company has so far received with its V.me digital wallet service. As you may remember, the company had an initial launch in United States in 2012, was already forming partnerships with US banks and went global by adding Canada, UK, Spain and France soon after. As of last week, the company has partnerships with over 90 financial institutions in the US, including Bank of America and PNC Bank, almost doubling the number of organizations supporting the service in an 8-9 months timeframe. Likewise, the company has confirmed that the number of merchants that are on board with V.me service has crossed 250 with over 25% of them signing up in Q2 2013. This can certainly be considered a success in an ecosystem with more established solution providers such as PayPal, Square and Google.
This service enables consumers to make purchases (both online and in-store) using their smartphones, tablets or PCs without entering their account number, billing/ shipping information, etc. Instead, each shopper has a unique username and password to use in their transactions, which helps in addressing shopper-fatigue in filling out long forms. The company is also supporting accounts from its long-time competitors MasterCard, Discover and American Express. As part of its global expansion, the company has announced that it will launch its V.me solution in Australia before the holiday season to take advantage of the Australians who are receptive to online shopping. The company is aiming to benefit from its long history in the payments space, and its strong security features which include encryption and authentication.
Another important update came from Isis with its announcement for a nationwide roll out of Isis Mobile Wallet as a result of the early successes the company received in Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah. As you might recall, Isis is a joint venture that was created by carriers AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Isis Mobile Wallet is using NFC technology to accept payments. Likewise, consumers can also redeem coupons and display loyalty cards just by tapping their smartphones. The number of mobile devices (spread across these three carriers) that currently support Isis is thirty five with more to follow in the upcoming months and years. The company also shared some interesting stats from its pilot that launched in Q4 2012 claiming that contactless payments are accepted in over 4,000 locations in these two cities (combined), more than tripling in the past 9-10 months. Hence, according to Isis, more than 80% of transactions took place at retail outlets such as gas stations, convenience stores, quick-service restaurants, grocery stores and such. Thus, with digital payments increasingly becoming a part of our lives, it will be interesting to see how the market evolves.