Visa Direct to pave way for Apple Pay’s arrival in Europe this summer

24 Feb 2015

Visa Europe’s new Visa Direct platform that allows users to transfer money using just a mobile number is to go live this summer, giving rise to speculation Apple Pay’s arrival in Europe will be made easier.

Visa Direct makes it possible for members of banks to transfer money easily to any one of the 2bn Visa cardholders around the world.

Visa is making its Visa Europe API management platform available to banks around Europe to integrate it into existing mobile and online apps.

Across Europe, more than 200,000 people have transferred €43m since March last year.

Available this summer, the Visa Direct service will be available in 20 languages and will support multiple currencies.

Visa is also understood to be introducing a tokenisation system to banks in April that scrambles a user’s credit-card details to reduce the risk of theft or fraud.

It is envisaged that the existence of Visa Europe’s Visa Direct platform will pave the way for Apple Pay, as security systems such as those of Visa and MasterCard have been key to the success of Apple Pay, which rolled out in the US last year.

When it first launched in the US, Apple Pay became activated on 1m cards in just 72 hours.

The Apple Pay mobile wallet service lets users of iPhones (iPhone 5 and above), iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 pay at contactless payment terminals in shops.

Social commerce

Visa Europe has also partnered with Singapore-based Fastacash, which will enable Visa Direct users to send peer-to-peer payments via social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and LinkedIn.

“Consumers are demanding payment services that integrate with their mobile lifestyle and their favourite social network,” said Sue Onians from Visa Europe.

“Our world is getting smaller and quicker in terms of interaction and payments should keep up. Consumers want to be able to transfer money easily and securely across geographic borders without limitations, to their friends and family. Visa Direct from Visa Europe enables this while our partnership with Fastacash will make this even easier through social networks.”

Visa Europe will be displaying demo versions of Visa Direct at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, next week.

To use the peer-to-peer system, consumers use the mobile app or interface provided by their bank, enter the amount they wish to send and the social channel through which to notify the recipient of the payment.

“Working with Visa Europe and its member banks, we will be able to bring social money transfers to over 500m people across Europe,” said Fastacash CEO Vince Tallent.

“We see this partnership with Visa Europe as the next step in bringing banks and end users closer in the often complicated process of money transfers.”

Apple Pay image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years