Visa to Offer Mobile Money Transfer

Stephen Yagielowicz
LOS ANGELES — Visa and U.S. Bank have announced plans to launch a mobile money transfer program that will allow registered U.S.-based Visa cardholders to securely send funds to one another via their mobile phones.

The pilot program is scheduled to begin later this year and said to be the first U.S.-based trial testing mobile money transfers between Visa accounts.

According to the company, its new money transfer service is a key component of Visa's mobile strategy "that seeks to harness the proliferation of mobile devices by making them multi-function payment tools."

The services being tested in the U.S. trial are similar to those Visa currently offers to consumers in 13 European, Middle Eastern and Asian countries; which beyond simply supporting mobile money transfers, are available through other existing channels, including bank branches, ATMs, the Internet and kiosks.

"With more consumers relying on their mobile devices to simplify their everyday lives, Visa has a significant opportunity to streamline and secure the way people send and receive money," Visa's Global Head of Product, Elizabeth Buse, said. "Through our business network of more than 16,000 banks and 1.6 billion cards in market, Visa can enable secure and convenient mobile money transfers, both domestically and cross-border."

Visa's mobile money transfer pilot program will be conducted in several phases; the first of which will enable domestic money transfers within the U.S. and will involve several Visa issuers, including U.S. Bank, and up to 6,000 Visa account holders, who will be able to initiate money transfers using a mobile web browser to access a secure interface.

According to Visa, the transferred funds will be credited directly to the recipient's Visa account, and can be accessed via a cash withdrawal at an ATM or by making a purchase at any merchant that accepts Visa products.

Visa hopes that the initial pilot tests will provide it and its partners with valuable insight into consumer behavior that will shape the second pilot phase, scheduled for mid-2009, which will offer cross-border transactions.

"We are excited to partner with Visa to better understand how mobile money transfer services can provide even greater convenience and access to U.S. Bank services," U.S. Bancorp Vice Chairman of Payment Services, Pam Joseph, said. "We see the growth of mobile technology and increased sophistication of devices as an opportunity to serve our customers with secure and reliable mobile financial services."

The new services are powered by Visa's mobile platform, "a suite of technologies that enables Visa, its clients, and mobile operators to engage in trial activities and develop commercially scalable mobile services."

Central to this effort is Visa's delivery of mobile applications for the Android platform, which will be available for download on Android-powered handsets and initially available to Chase Visa cardholders.

"Visa innovations create better money and enable more people in more places to enjoy the advantages of electronic payments," Buse added. "The Visa mobile platform helps us deliver on that promise, and enables our clients to expand their products to new channels."