Visa takes aim at US contactless market

Visa takes aim at US contactless market

Card association Visa is homing in on a $1.2 trillion cash replacement opportunity as it talks up the rapid uptake of contactless payment cards by US retailers, banks and consumers.

The card brand says Visa Contactless has surpassed 20,000 merchant acceptance locations in the United States, making it "one of the most rapidly adopted payment innovations in Visa history". Consumers can make contactless payments at a range of well-known convenience stores and fast food locations, including McDonald's, AMC Theatres, CVS/pharmacy and Meijer.

The mass-market roll-out by Chase Manhattan of six million 'blink' cards has spurred adoption of contactless technology by other banks, although the lion's share of issuer wins seems to be falling to MasterCard and its rival PayPass system. Citibank earlier this week announced plans to trial PayPass at barriers on the New York subway, in an effort to mimic the success of other mass transit cards, such as Octopus in Hong Kong and London's Oyster card.

Visa says it is collaborating with terminal manufacturers, merchants, and municipalities to develop solutions for a range of unattended payment terminals where consumers will benefit from contactless convenience.

Elizabeth Buse, EVP for Visa USA, says: "The cash payment market opportunity is $1.2 trillion, and contactless will help drive the migration from cash to electronic payments."

She says Visa has designed its contactless platform to apply to a broad range of non-traditional payment vehicles, such as mini cards and key fobs, and has begun tests of the technology on mobile phones in Atlanta's Philips Arena.

Visa is not alone in this endeavour. MasterCard too has conducted similar trials in conjunction with handset device manufacturers, wireless carriers and banking partners.

Buse forecasts: "Consumers will want to explore contactless payment applications on a range of devices, from mini cards to mobile phones, that match their specific interests and lifestyle."

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