Visa hopes its technology will lead to mobile device apps that create digital wallets.VisaVisa hopes its technology will lead to mobile device apps that create digital wallets. Visa is taking another big step in its continuing efforts to create a universal digital wallet. On Wednesday, the company announced plans to introduce a one-click payment system that will allow Visa customers to sign up for a set of credentials that will allow them to pay for items online with a single click. Jim McCarthy, the head of global products at Visa, said that the company was trying to simplify the process of buying items online or on a mobile site, which can be cumbersome for people who have to re-enter their card numbers and personal information each time they want to make a purchase online. “E-commerce is our fastest growing channel,” said Mr. McCarthy. “We know we can do a lot to improve the experience in the e-commerce environment.” People can buy things with one click at a particular site, say Amazon.com. But they can’t yet do it across the Web.
Visa’s new feature reduces the multitude of ways a consumer might want to pay for an item — whether with a Visa check card, a PayPal account or some other means — into a single log-in and password. All of the information is stored in Visa’s secured servers so that users only have to sign in to pay for their purchase. Mr. McCarthy said the service would be introduced to consumers in the United States and Canada by the year-end holiday shopping season. Visa has also been testing a system that lets users pay for items with an application that uses “near-field communication” technology on a mobile device to process a payment. This one-click system will also be wrapped into that service when it is introduced more broadly, the company said.
The company says that a customer’s entire financial history could be securely stored in one spot, along with frequent-flier accounts, medical benefits, even appliance warranty information from Best Buy, replacing the jumble of account information that most people have stored in different locations — on and offline. The first users of the service will probably be online gamers. The service will be introduced in social and online games, allowing Visa customers to buy virtual goods. Eventually, Mr. McCarthy said, the company will introduce it “broadly to e-commerce merchants, mobile and social commerce developers who will allow consumers to check out of a site with a single click.” Visa even plans to make the underlying code, or A.P.I., available to third-party developers who want to install the features on their payment Web sites. Visa executives said the plan was the result of two strategic acquisitions that the company made over the last several months — PlaySpan, a start-up that lets people pay for virtual goods in games, and CyberSource, an e-payments company.
Representatives at Visa said it was working with several banking partners, but did not specify which ones. Visa faces stiff competition as it ramps up its online and mobile offerings. American Express and other credit card issuers are fast at work developing and adopting their own solutions. Mobile carriers have also struggled to bring their own solutions to market, but it is not yet clear when or if, they will debut. “We’re trying to get ahead of the curve here,” said Mr. McCarthy.