Visa is Coming to Mobile Next Week to be Everywhere You Want to Be

Visa is fulfilling its promise of being “everywhere you want to be,” beginning as soon as next week, when it plans to make an announcement regarding its mobile payments strategy.

Joseph Saunders, Visa’s executive chairman and CEO, could hardly contain himself yesterday during the company’s second-quarter conference call.

At first, he was reluctant to say too much, only that an announcement was coming later this month. But later in the call, he added that the company will begin revealing plans as soon as next week.

Over time, he used words such as “happy” and “excited” to be involved in mobile technology.

To be sure, the company has already been investing aggressively in the space.

Late last month, it invested in Square, the San Francisco company that is enabling almost anyone to accept credit card payments using a smartphone. In February, it acquired PlaySpan, which handles transactions for virtual goods in online games, digital media and social networks, for about $190 million in cash.

And, two weeks ago, it unveiled a partnership with Gap, which is using Visa’s platform to alert customers by text message to discounts on jeans and other apparel when they are in the vicinity of a store. Visa is also opening up that platform to other retailers.

Saunders tooted his own corporate horn, saying he believes Visa has a more complete solution than anyone else in the market. “We’ve been reluctant to talk about it until we have put together…an appropriate [response], where we can tell you something positive and significant,” he said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the call.

Of course, Visa’s competitors would probably like to say something about that.

MasterCard, PayPal, American Express, the wireless carriers, and even Internet giants such as Facebook, Amazon and Google are all in various stages of cooking up a digital payments strategy.

Saunders said that a viable payment solution must have five characteristics: Convenience and simplicity, standardization, interoperability, global accessibility and security.

“None of the solutions we have seen from competitors is comprehensive enough because they don’t address all of these criteria at once. Visa has long delivered solutions at the physical point of sale that passed this test and we are applying the same standard in the online and mobile arena,” he said.

I guess we’ll see as soon as next week.


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— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus