Visa: Innovation is a daily business

30-06-2017 | Interview

PaymentGenes sat down with Donald Kohen, Business Development Manager Central Europe at Visa. The payment brand is innovating payments technologies and services every day. Donald elaborated on how Visa is doing this and how it manages to stay ahead of the curve in the fast paced Fintech industry.

Donald, please tell us something about your position at Visa.
As a business development manager for the Central European region (Benelux, Germany, Austria and Switzerland), my main task is to add value to our products by combining them with new features in line with market requests. We put the consumer at the center of everything we do; translating technology and product features into faster, more secure ways to make transactions.

As an example we have implemented our Simply One solution in the Netherlands, which is a card combining Visa and V PAY on one plastic, giving consumers the convenience of one card.

The payment and FinTech industry is growing strong with new startups emerging every day. What is your view on this trend and what are the challenges for an established company like Visa?
Every day, Visa is innovating payment technologies and services. We closely work together in the fintech ecosystem – partnering with promising startups, tech giants, telco’s and traditional financial institutions. We nurture our relationships with small fintech startups and see a clear win-win here: they support us with innovative solutions, we bring them the scale and reputation they need to grow their client base.

What other challenges does Visa face?
We see opportunities rather than challenges. First of all, an obvious one: many transactions are still settled in cash. Even in the Netherlands, where we are digitally advanced and have more electronic payments than cash transactions, there is still room for further improvement, finding ways to simplify and streamline consumers’ daily lives. Our expectation is that we will eat away from that combined cash transactions amount, as the percentage of electronic and digital payments of all payments combined are still growing.

Secondly, we expect the almost exponential growth of mobile and contactless payments to continue. Acceptance is increasing significantly, and the more people see how convenient these payments are, the more they will adopt this new way to pay. To end, and coming back to your question, I can mention a challenge: on the one hand we invest heavily – time as well as money – in keeping the infrastructure for these new ways to pay safe and secure. On the other hand we are opening up our network to stimulate developers to sandbox and develop in a simple and innovative way. It is a challenge to combine this openness with a high level of security – and the latter is always the number one priority.

Could you tell us something about Visa’s innovation centers? Why where they established and what problems are they solving?
Our Innovation Centers are immersive environments where Visa can work side-by-side with financial institutions, merchants and other partners to develop the next generation of payment solutions. As the payments industry shifts from plastic to digital and new entrants join traditional stakeholders in payments, Visa’s mission is to ensure that every Internet- connected device, appliance or wearable can become a secure place for commerce. Visa’s global network of innovation centers are an important part of this mission by fostering innovation and creating an environment that enables Visa to engage, experience and collaborate with a broad range of partners and clients.

In the innovation Centers, we are focused on the future. Whether it’s the next generation retail experience, the future of banking, what mobility will look like, how we can support charitable organizations, and even how we confirm our identity through new methods of authentication.

5 years from now, how did the innovation centers change the world?
The idea of innovation is that you don’t know in advance what it is going to bring – at least, not in detail. Therefore, we can only speak in general terms here. We believe the Centers will bring or help facilitate new technologies in the fields of, for example: authentication, IoT, geolocation, and mobile payments. Needless to say: all of them in line with the latest security requirements.

A few examples of what might be common in day to day life within five years: you could voice-order a pizza and Alexa (Amazon) can tell you which company is making the pizza, which ingredients it has and when it will be delivered. You will be able to control house lighting, lock doors, feed your pet, turn on/off air conditioners with mobile devices and IoT. The future is coming quickly. There are 3 billion cards, 7 billion mobile devices with 8 billion connections today with an expected 50 billion IoT connections in the near future. One of the great things about Visa is that we are working hard to make it easier for financial institutions and merchants to connect to each other through our network and IoT.

This article was published in the PaymentGenes Quarterly FinTech Magazine. Please read all articles included in the magazine here