Calling it the ‘network-of-networks’ strategy, group country manager of Visa India and South Asia, TR Ramachandran in an interview said that the lines between various payment infrastructures are blurring, and traditional approach of paying through physical cards or betting on network exclusivity, will not future proof money movement in the coming years.
“The lines between online and offline are blurring, and it is clear that products from digital payment players should meet customers, where they buy and sell. This could be EMI on point-of-sale, for example or host of other offerings. To leverage this ecosystem of products, payment acceptance points should be open. We want to bring open-loop network benefits to our partners, and ubiquity is key to the strategy,” explained Ramachandran.
The company is also in talks with various payment players in the market to make end point acceptance infrastructure interoperable.
“At present, we are also working to open, close loop quick response (QR) codes. Hence, on scanning the QR with a bank and payments app, Visa credentials stored by the customer on the app will pop up. This means we are expanding the scope of payments, giving consumers more options. It’s no longer an us versus them strategy; it is us and them,” said Ramachandran.
Visa has been in talks to allow users of Google’s UPI-based payments service GPay to also make payments through their Visa card credentials.
“In ‘network-of-networks’, the transaction can start on one network and end on a different one. And for Visa the priority is that a user should be able to use their preferred payment service at whatever terminal and acceptance point whether domestic or internationally seamlessly,” said Ramachandran.
Along with this the card network major is building an arsenal of value-added services that are ‘network agnostic’, and are partnering with firms to add these capabilities.
Recently, Visa partnered with American financial software giant, Intuit to develop a joint value proposition wherein Visa cardholders will be able to subscribe to Intuit QuickBooks and use its features like – GST compliance, expense management, automated bank reconciliation, document management amongst other things. It has also partnered with business-payments provider, PayMate, which it invested in July, last year to offer enterprise solutions to merchants and small businesses.
Along with this, Visa has also been working with payment solution firm Innoviti to add the ‘Buy now, Pay Later’ offering at different acceptance points.
Simultaneously, the company is also shipping its products on Indian payments apps to help improve overall customer experience.
To give an example, Visa launched its Visa Safe Click (VSC) offering, that eliminates the need for One Time Passwords (OTP) for transactions up to ₹2,000 on the e-commerce platform. Now the card payments network has taken this offering to merchant platforms – Paytm, PhonePe, BookMyShow, Flipkart and CRED.
While covering bases in the domestic payments’ ecosystem, Visa is now looking to lay the pipework for international remittances in India, through its blockchain-powered ‘B2B Connect’ platform, which the company is awaiting approvals from the Indian regulator.
“B2B Connect will empower corporates who want to transfer money from one country to another. This could lead to multiple fintech used cases such as – letter of credit, post shipment credit, and we are rapidly getting into that space. We see our role to connect interoperable standards,” Ramachandran said.
With consumers spoiled for choice, and the Indian payments market offering options such as Unified Payments Interface (UPI), digital wallets; network operators are hard at work to add value-added services and newer capabilities, apart from just offering digital payments.
In June, Mastercard partnered with Axis Bank Ltd., payment service provider Worldline to launch its Soft POS solution, enabling local kiranas to accept payments; send payment links to customers and even accept NFC-based payments. It also partnered with banking-tech provider Goals101, August, to help banks hyper target customers better.
While even National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which operates UPI in the country, is planning to add near-field communication (NFC) capabilities to its payments infrastructure and is in talks with payment aggregators to push the product across point-of-sale (PoS) devices, in a bid to diversify itself from QR-based payments, Mint reported in August.