Visa (NYSE: V) today announced an expansion of Visa’s Everywhere Initiative (VEI) for 2018 with a more dynamic program, new participating countries, and an elevated level of support for participants.
Visa’s Everywhere Initiative is a global innovation program that tasks start-ups to solve commerce challenges of tomorrow, further enhance their own product propositions and provide visionary solutions for Visa’s vast network of partners.
Visa’s Everywhere Initiative will begin 2018 with a broader approach that presents program participants with challenges unique to each region and propel digital commerce solutions. This year’s program updates include:
Robust country lineup: The 2018 roster spans five continents, with the next two programs launching in the United States on March 19 and Russia on March 15. The lineup includes Visa’s Everywhere Initiatives in the following locations:
North America: United States
Asia-Pacific: Thailand*, Vietnam*, China
Latin America: Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Argentina
Europe; Middle East: Russia*; additional Europe countries to be added
Africa: Sub-Saharan Africa*
New participants: Visa’s Everywhere Initiative will usher in the next generation of innovators with the addition of three student-focused initiatives: in Europe, a partnership with Junior Achievement, student participation in the Russia 2018 VEI program, and with Northwestern University’s “MMM” student program in the United States.
Dynamic format: The program will expand beyond the traditional country competition format to offer more ways for startups to participate in Visa’s Everywhere Initiative, which may include immersion workshops at Visa’s global network of Innovation Centers, networking opportunities within Visa’s global partner network and expanded regional competitions.
Innovative briefs: To support the global trends shaping the FinTech category as outlined in Visa’s Innovations for a Cashless World: Consumer Desire and the Future of Payments report, start-ups will answer briefs tackling the biggest challenges that face the commerce landscape today, both globally and regionally - for example, expanding access to digital payments in Latin America, conversational commerce solutions in North America, cross border travel for tourists in Asia, open banking solutions in Europe and more.
Bridge of support: To reward top participants, Visa may provide monetary prizes, access to Visa’s products and services via APIs on Visa Developer Platform, expert mentorship and support from Visa and exposure to key FinTech constituents across banking, merchant and government sectors.
“Visa’s Everywhere Initiative is in a unique position to help uncover, support and apply emerging technologies to today’s biggest digital commerce challenges,” said Shiv Singh, senior vice president, Innovation and Strategic Partners at Visa. “No longer confined by the geographical proximity to established innovation hubs, the brightest ideas are coming from all corners of the world and this continues to be a successful way for Visa and its partners to collaborate with some of the most promising start-ups.”
Since starting in 2015, Visa’s Everywhere Initiative has awarded over $1 million and mentorship to more than 130 finalists - from companies looking to push the boundaries of tomorrow to those looking to create quick, real-life payment implementations. One of these companies is LISNR, which won the US program in 2016, is exploring ways to transfer payments through sound with Visa and its partners in Asia-Pacific.
"Visa's Everywhere Initiative originally opened up the possibility of using sound to support payments and other financial services use cases,” said Rodney Williams, CEO of LISNR. “Over the past few years, we've worked closely with Visa to validate this concept and we’re excited for a future where contactless payment activity may be supplemented by data-over-audio."
Visa also continues to work with previous winners such as IncreaseCard (Latin America), QPal (Middle East), EasyShare (Asia-Pacific), HopOn (Europe) and Losant (North America) that are pushing the boundaries of the commerce ecosystem.
* denotes new country in 2018 for Visa’s Everywhere Initiative