Visa’s V.me Nears Full Commercial Rollout, Adding Countries and Merchants
By Kate Fitzgerald, Emerging Payments Editor
As the push to minimize steps for consumers inputting card data when making online and mobile purchases gathers steam, competition among digital wallets is intensifying. For Visa, this year is particularly significant, as it nears the full commercial rollout of V.me, its digital wallet. The network says V.me will boost convenience and speed the consumer checkout process on a computer, tablet or smartphone. Registered users can sign up for V.me and store any type of payment card, including debit, credit and prepaid cards from Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover, for payment online and via mobile devices.
Introduced in 2012, V.me is one of several digital wallets in various stages of development, all vying to become the go-to resource for consumers using digital channels for a growing share of their purchases. MasterCard’s MasterPass, Google Wallet and PayPal are among digital wallets that also store consumers’ various payment credentials in the cloud for quick and secure access. Even Amazon, which claims 215 million registered customers, has joined the race with its one-click shopping option.
PayPal, with its roots within eBay Inc., got an early lead in building its brand as a versatile online checkout option across multiple e-commerce sites, but it’s still very early in the digital wallet game, analysts say. “If the payment networks’ emerging digital wallets can become as ubiquitous as cards on both the consumer and merchant sides, then they could gain ground quickly,” Rick Oglesby, a senior analyst with Aite Group, tells Paybefore. The payment networks have some unique advantages to leverage when it comes to digital wallets, Oglesby suggests. “A payment network would need to take advantage of pre-existing banking and merchant relationships to drive real change in consumer behavior.”
Regardless of strategy, building out a global digital wallet takes time. Steadily expanding its geographic reach, V.me launched in Australia in December 2013, adding to a list that includes the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Spain and Poland. Visa also has signed up dozens of banks around the world supporting V.me.
Next, Visa must build a critical mass of merchants supporting V.me, to help build consumer awareness. Presently Visa lists about 60 e-commerce merchants supporting V.me, including 1800flowers.com, Overstock.com, Fandango, Hotwire and a range of commodities suppliers, such as Autopartswarehouse.com and Carparts.com, among others.
V.me is not available at the POS and in the near term Visa is focusing only on e-commerce and m-commerce development for V.me, a Visa spokesperson confirms.
That’s no surprise, Oglesby says, because while getting consumers to adopt a digital wallet in the online world is relatively easy, making a digital leap to the brick-and-mortar landscape is trickier. “Combining a digital shopping environment with a physical one represents unique challenges and requires much bigger changes in consumer behavior,” he notes. As Visa rolls out V.me, Oglesby expects to see plenty of competitive action. Digital wallets present “all green field” growth for major payment industry players. But exactly when explosive growth and promotion of digital wallets may occur is unknown. “It will take lots of experimentation to make it happen,” he says.