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Pizza Hut, Staples ready rollout of mobile-friendly Visa Checkout

The new offering from Visa seeks to make payment easier by storing credit-card information online so that e-payments can be made on participating merchants’ Web sites without entering anything other than a name and password. It is replacing Visa’s previous efforts to roll out a mobile wallet through the offering.

“People have less and less time, and people are becoming addicted to their mobile devices, [so] it becomes very apparent this is the way they want to do business,” said Baron Concors, global chief digital officer at Pizza Hut, in a panel presentation discussing the launch of Visa Checkout at the card company’s new Technology Center in San Francisco. “If you think about our world, when people are ordering a pizza it is usually because they’re really hungry and speed is of the essence, right? And so people are waiting in line at the subway, they always have their mobile phone on, and it is always connected. They do not have to go over to a computer and boot it up and get on the network and log in and all of that stuff.”

Visa Checkout has already been put in place at Nieman Marcus and a handful of online merchants, and Visa said it has signed on about 180 banks around the world to market the offering to consumers. Visa and MasterCard historically have issued their traditional physical credit cards through their bank partners.

Digital version of cards
The technology of Visa Checkout does not require that merchants store customers’ credit-card information on their own Web sites, which helps alleviate concerns over data security, according to Visa. An icon of the user’s card — the use is not restricted to Visa-issued cards — is displayed on merchants’ e-commerce or m-commerce sites that consumers can click on to take them to their Visa Checkout account.

“Visa Checkout is a fast, simple and intuitive payment experience that allows consumers to pay for goods online on any device in just a few clicks, all with the security of the Visa brand behind it,” said Charlie Sharf, CEO of Visa in an online press conference.

Visa plans to promote the new offering with a new multimedia ad campaign designed to build awareness among consumers and to promote the merchants who it is partnering with on the launch. It is seeking to enlist the cooperation of many of the largest companies in the world for the rollout.

Visa executives said Visa Checkout was designed to be as easy to use in the mobile environment as physical credit cards are in the bricks-and-mortar world. A related mobile SDK is also available, allowing developers to implement a native in-app checkout experience for iOS and Android-based devices.

‘This really is a digital representation of the card that cardholders know and love in the physical world,” said Sam Shrauger, senior vice president of digital at Visa. “We have optimized it so that it works as well in a digital and mobile environment as it does in a physical environment.”

Staples eyes consumers
At office-supply store Staples, the new offering from Visa could be especially helpful in converting consumer shoppers into buyers. The retailer said that while about 85 percent of the sales on its desktop site are business-to-business commerce, about 65 percent of tablet volume is consumers.

“What we want to do is stitch together an experience whether you are online, or within the store, or you want to place an order on one of our kiosks or on your mobile phone, we’re able to give you that journey wherever you are,” said Faisal Masud, global executive vice president of e-commerce at Staples.

United Airlines has seen revenue through mobile devices double in the last year. It will be one of the early adopters of Visa Checkout.

Similarly, United Airlines sees the acceptance of Visa Checkout driving more commerce through its mobile app.

“Digital is centrally important to our business,” said Tom O’Toole, senior vice president of marketing and loyalty at United Airlines. “To focus specifically on mobile, our revenue through the mobile channel has more than doubled year over year — and that is not off of a trivial base — and there is every indication that that growth rate is only going to accelerate.

“Our app is rapidly becoming a vehicle for mobile commerce, both to book passenger travel, as well as the multitude of additional products and services that we offer.”

He said he also sees mobile as a content delivery vehicle through which the airline could eventually stream in-flight content to passengers.

By offering the added security of maintaining users’ payment-card information separate from the retailers’ Web sites, Visa stands to reduce the anxiety associated with mobile commerce. Data security remains one of the top barriers to the more rapid adoption of mobile commerce, according a recent PayPal report (see story).

Replacing the mobile wallet also appears a timely decision given the entry into the wallet space of digital power players Google and Apple (see story).

Visa Checkout puts the card company in a prime position at the vanguard of a new era of online payments, and its adoption by retailers should accelerate the transition to more rapid adoption of mobile commerce.

That is a move that is inevitable, said Mr. Concors of Pizza Hut.

“Consumers will always evolve to whatever is easiest,” he said.

Final Take
Mark Hamstra is content director at Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.