Commerce Weekly: Visa pursues NFC mobile payments

Visa looks to make allies with new program; PayPal Here heads to Europe; and showrooming, Google disrupt retail.

Visa looks to kick-start NFC

Visa is taking aim at the NFC mobile payment holy grail. On Friday, the company announced the Visa Ready Partner Program. Leena Rao reports at TechCrunch that the initiative “aims to help mobile device manufacturers, technology partners, mobile network operators, and others gain access to Visa IP, licenses and more,” and that Visa “will make APIs and SDKs available to allow mobile point of sale providers to connect to Visa via payments gateways CyberSource and Authorize.Net.”

Rao says the program will serve as a resource for developers and provide a way for financial institutions and retailers to adopt mobile payments solutions. One of the initial program partners announced is Samsung. Ina Fried reports at All Things Digital that per the agreement, future NFC-enabled Samsung phones “will come with Visa’s [PayWave mobile] applet and pre-certified to work with its payment system.” Fried also reports that Visa mobile chief Bill Gadja said that they’re aiming to “turn upstarts into potential allies rather than rivals” with the program.

Marguerite Reardon reports at CNET that while the program may well help kick-start NFC-enabled payments around the world, it may hit a snag in the U.S. She writes:

“Since wireless carriers in the U.S. still have a say in what features are available on devices and which aren’t, there’s a chance that the Visa PayWave technology may only be available on Samsung devices sold internationally and not on most Samsung smartphones sold in the U.S.”

Reardon uses Google Wallet’s uphill battle as an example of potential obstacles Visa may face, noting that “the three major U.S. operators that have already blocked Google Wallet are investors in a joint venture called ISIS, which is building its own NFC-based mobile wallet.” You can read her full report at CNET.

PayPal Here crosses The Pond

PayPal unveiled a version of its PayPal Here mobile payment device that will launch in the U.K. this summer, with other European countries to follow. Rebecca Grant notes at VentureBeat that “PayPal already has a large presence in the U.K. and seeks to capitalize on its existing network as well as name recognition.”

The biggest obstacle PayPal faced in designing the European version of PayPal Here was the complex Chip and PIN system used throughout Europe, technology that Marcus Wohlsen at Wired says “crushes anything available stateside.” Wohlsen explains that the chips in the Chip and PIN cards are more difficult for thieves to copy than the magnetic stripes we have here in the U.S.

Rick Oglesby, a payments industry expert at Aite Group, told Alistair Barr at Reuters that “[t]rying to figure out how to make Chip and PIN work in these devices has been hard” and that the devices thus far have been expensive and “clunky.” Barr also reports that PayPal will charge merchants a “nominal fee” for the European PayPal Here device and that it will charge a per-transaction fee similar to that in the U.S.

Study measures the showrooming effect

Location analytics company Placed released a new study this week, “Aisle to Amazon: How Amazon is impacting brick-and-mortar retailers,” that identifies the retailers that are most at risk from consumers showrooming and then buying from Amazon.

Devindra Hardawar reports at VentureBeat that the study coupled data from nearly one billion location data points measured in January with 14,925 surveyed respondents. The results showed the stores most at risk were Bed Bath & Beyond, PetSmart, Toys “R” Us, Best Buy, Sears, and Barnes & Noble. Hardawar notes that online price matching programs have been launched by Best Buy and Target and says “Placed’s study shows that plenty of other retailers will need to follow in their footsteps.”

In related news, DataPop CEO and co-founder Jason Lehmbeck looked at Google’s recent acquisition of Channel Intelligence and its integration of Google Shopping results into its core search engine in a guest post at GigaOm. Lehmbeck says that Google not only is aiming to “eat Amazon’s lunch” but is also “making a play for all retail” and that “every retailer should be worried about the implications” of Google’s recent actions. He notes that it’s not too late for retailers to position themselves to compete and offers a few strategies marketers can employ to fend off Google’s advances.

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