Visa’s V.me, a new breed of mobile wallet

September 10, 2012

The Official Merchant Services Blog again looks into the mobile wallet world today, by introducing the new product from Visa, Inc. called V.me.  Last week we discussed in detail the BarclayCard mobile wallet system, which has come here to Delaware at participating locations in Newark and Wilmington.

Visa plans to roll out its own version of a mobile wallet solution by the end of this year.  Although the Card Issuer is the largest in the world, the entrance seems late in a game filled with tough competitors.  Visa has been testing a beta of the program with five large online retailers.  Buy.com, Bidz.com, Cooking.com, Modnique and PacSun are the retailers currently offering the e-commerce side of the service on their web sites.  Customers have the option when checking out to sign up for the program, set up the account and add a card, all without leaving that merchant’s site. Buy.com went live with V.me first in May; the others followed suit a few months after.

The program will eventually allow mobile device users to pay for goods from participating merchants at physical locations, most likely by the end of 2012.  V.me uses a ‘hybrid’ security system of the device’s secure element, as well as cloud servers to store customers’ card credentials.  This technique is reportedly more secure than the Isis system of storing card information directly on a device’s SIM card.  In August, Google decided to upgrade to a cloud based system of storing card data, however they kept reliance on the phone-based element to house a prepaid virtual card that initiates transactions and identifies users.

Visa will also include a location-based offers service with V.me, that will likely use geo-tagging to identify customers most visited locations, and market offers accordingly.  Competitor Google Wallet, while nearly a year old, has struggled due to the reliance on NFC-based technology that is not wide spread enough yet.  Other companies such as Apple Inc., and MasterCard have also announced their entrance into the mobile payment game.  Apple, with its Passbook wallet feature expected in the new iOS 6 will feature QR code reading technology.  MasterCard announced a mobile wallet program in May, called PayPass wallet service that claims to be open to third parties for development and flexible to a wide variety of payment brands.

In summary, Visa’s V.me is one of the mobile wallets that I’ll be eagerly waiting for, however it seems a long way off from implementation now. For Delawareans, Barclays’ Barclay Card Mobile Wallet app seems to be the only one to hit the ground running here in the First State. A watchful eye will be kept on this close race of Banks, Card Issuers and Credit Card Processors to see who will be the one to win Mobile Wallet Dominance.

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