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Visa has reached 20 million contactless cards in India

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Visa has reached 20 million contactless cards in IndiaCard payments network Visa said that they have issued more than 20 million contactless cards in India and has more than 1 million terminals across the country which can accept such cards for payments.

“In a little over three years, along with our clients, we have been able to promote the benefits of contactless cards to over 20 million consumers across India. Besides the significant push in building awareness, we have helped expand India’s contactless acceptance infrastructure to over one million points,” said TR Ramachandran, group country manager for Visa in India and South Asia. 

In a note shared with the press, the company said that more than 3.3 million merchants in India now accept cashless payments through multiple payment options and contactless cards also help in expanding the adoption of digital payments here.

ET had reported in July that the government had issued a directive to the banks to push on higher adoption of contactless cards in the country since they are more secure than magnetic stripe ones.

Visa contactless payment cards have an embedded antenna and microchip, enabling "contactless" communication with a card reader at checkout. Cardholders can simply tap or wave the card over a secure reader. The transaction is then processed through Visa’s global, secure network, VisaNet, which processes all Visa transactions.

Ramachandran said that globally, over 1.5 billion contactless payment cards are expected to be issued by the end of 2018 and will account for 50% of all payment cards shipped.

posted Jan 5 by Sanjay Rawat

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Digital payments network Visa is close to investing over $250 million into Mumbai-based payments gateway BillDesk, valuing the company at around $1.5-2 billion, three people familiar with the development told TOI. Bill-Desk, which had earlier been in discussions for a strategic sale, has decided to opt for a financing round, these people said. The fundraise, sources said, is a mix of primary and secondary transactions.
BillDesk is the largest online payments processing company in the country and competes with the likes of Naspers-backed PayU, CCAvenue and a bunch of younger startups like RazorPay. “The deal is in the final stages of completion, it’s the valuation which is being negotiated,” a person familiar with the talks said. In 2016, General Atlantic had picked up a 20% stake in Bill-Desk from its existing investors, valuing the company at $800 million.

Founded in 2000 by three former Arthur Andersen executives — M N Srinivasu, Ajay Kaushal and Karthik Ganapathy — BillDesk is one among the rare profitable internet companies in India. For Visa, an investment in BillDesk would help the American firm cement its position in the payments ecosystem in India, which has seen disruption with the introduction of new modes like the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). The entry of global tech giants like WhatsApp Pay and Google’s Tez, as well as homegrown players like Flipkart’s PhonePe, has made the UPI platform extremely competitive. Visa’s investment will also give Bill-Desk a strong foothold in the online merchant acquisition side of the business.

BillDesk processes payments worth almost $50 billion per year and leads the charts for online bill payments. In the e-commerce segment, it is neck-and-neck with PayU, while CCAvenue and others come in next. For FY17, it clocked Rs 950 crore in revenue and has been profitable for over a decade now. Typically, payments firms generate around 1-2% of gross revenue which comes from commission that they fetch from merchants, in a widely known lowmargin business. When contacted, BillDesk’s Srinivasu did not respond to an email and text messages, while a Visa spokesperson said, “As a policy, the company doesn’t comment on partnerships or investment speculation.”

People familiar with the matter said the BillDesk founders are negotiating a higher value of $2 billion in the backdrop of a hugely successful IPO of Dutch fintech startup and PayPal rival Adyen. The payments processing platform IPOed at over $8-billion valuation and saw its shares surge 90% as it doubled its market cap. “With RuPay and UPI gaining share, it has led to players like Visa and Mastercard, looking to tap newer avenues and bolster their space in the fast-growing digital payments market in India,” said another source on the condition of anonymity.

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The new cards will offer accelerated reward points

Starbucks is partnering with Chase and Visa to launch credit cards in February and a stored-value card in April. The chain’s president and CEO Kevin Johnson said customers would rack up reward points quicker in-store in addition to earning points elsewhere by swiping the card at other retailers.

"Starbucks has a very robust rewards program for the coffee obsessed and this partnership with Chase and Visa is an extension of that. While details haven't fully been disclosed, customers should look for perks such as free drinks on birthdays, the ability to order ahead while using the card, and discounts on favorite drinks,” 

“In addition, card holders should look for points that rival or are better than the Chase Sapphire Premium Card, which gives users triple points for every $1 spent on dining purchases," 

To entice other customers who may not frequent the chain as often, Starbucks is slated to introduce cold beverages more often. Nitro cold brew coffee is currently offered in 1,300 U.S. locations, but will be in 2,300 by the end of 2018.

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The canton of Zug, half an hour from Zurich, is fast becoming a crypto haven as the city council accepts bitcoin as a means for payment for fees by the residents’ registration office.

According to local paper Frankfurter Allgemeine, Zug, made a name for itself on the crypto scene after Ethereum inventor Vitalik Buterin settled there in 2014.

Richard Ettl, head of the blockchain-based logistics company Smart Containers Group in Zug, said: “Switzerland is at the epicentre of a small revolution in the financial system.”

And now the Swiss Minister of Economic Affairs Johann Schneider-Ammann (FDP) said he hopes the crypto revolution will spread outside of Zug.

He said he hopes "that in five or ten years nobody will speak about the Crypto Valley Zug, but about the Crypto Nation Switzerland".

Oliver Bussmann, the former head of innovation and IT at the Swiss bank UBS said that to date, more than 50 start-ups from the crypto and blockchain world have settled in the canton.

Mr Bussmann advises blockchain entrepreneur and manages the Crypto Valley Association.

He said he receives around three to five enquiries a day from individuals in the crypto arena considering moving to Zug. According to a study conducted by consulting firm PWC, companies around the world raised $4.6billion in capital through initial coin offerings (ICOs) last year.

The main advantage of the canton seems to be the liberal regulatory approach taken on by the area.

Bernhard Neidhart, head of the office for economy and work in Zug, said: “This pragmatic approach has fuelled the entire blockchain scene here, including non-crypto-currency applications.”

And the nation’s financial regulator the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) has responded to the flurry of interest in digital currencies with new guidance.

Finma says it will regulate ICOs to apply anti-money laundering laws to some sales. He said low taxes are just one of the many reasons why crypto enthusiast are attracted to the area.

Mr Neidhart said: “The taxes only open the door. A lot more is needed in order to win the location competition: a highly qualified workforce, international schools and a solution-oriented administration."

Mr Neidhart added the local authorities do their part as they answer questions very quickly without bureaucracy and deal with taxing crypto gains.

As cryptocurrencies adjust following record highs in December, Mr Neidhart said: "I do not want to dispute that there is a certain risk of a bubble forming.”

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Continued momentum in US EMV adoption

The major payment networks Visa, Mastercard and American Express say they are preparing for a better online payments experience by backing the EMVCo Secure Remote Commerce specification (SRC).

The specification announced in November, establishes the technical framework for enabling consumers to use their payment cards across channels more easily than current protocols allow. For example, a consumer could choose to set a tokenized version of their payment card with an eligible merchant though that merchant may not use the current card-on-file system.

As the physical point of sale continues to evolve, driven by the explosion of EMV chip cards and the rise of contactless payments, the digital commerce landscape is also evolving tremendously. This is fuelled in part by the proliferation of smart devices and internet of things, brought into the spotlight by new ways consumers expect to conduct their digital commerce. In 2017, consumers spent $453.46 billion on the web for retail purchases, a 16.0% increase over 2016. Overall, e-commerce accounted for 49% of the growth seen in retail last year.

To sustain this growth, there is a need for new payment experiences that enhance security, simplify digital commerce for consumers, and eliminate complex authentication and integration processes for merchants and issuers. To respond to this need, EMVCo created the EMV Secure Remote Commerce  – Technical Framework version 1.0 to pave the way for what’s next in digital-commerce innovation. The framework seeks to define, among other things:

  • A consistent payment payload for processing and integration across networks and integrated cardholder security by replacing the sensitive account information stored in PANs with EMV Payment Tokens. EMV Payment Tokens complement and can also be interoperable with gateway / acquirer security tokens.
  • Integrated cardholder security by integrating cardholder verification, issuer authentication and interoperability with EMV 3-D Secure, a messaging protocol that promotes frictionless consumer authentication when making card-not-present (CNP) e-commerce purchases