Visa plans to release its V.me digital wallet in time for Christmas.
Visa announced it will release a digital wallet in Australia this year that lets customers pay online merchants with any debit or credit card.
The V.me digital wallet, which launched last year in the United States, is a service that can be accessed on any PC, smartphone and tablet. Visa did not give an official release date for V.me in Australia, but said it would be ready in time for the Christmas shopping season.
Consumers enrol once for V.me through their financial institutions. After registering, they can add any card that is already accepted by e-commerce merchants. When buying from a website, the consumer logs into V.me, then selects the card they want to use and shipping information that they have saved in the digital wallet.
There are no fees for consumers to enrol or make purchases using V.me. However, online merchants must pay their financial institutions to support V.me.
The wallet can hold more cards than just Visa, including MasterCard, Visa officials said at the service's launch announcement today in Sydney. The digital wallet also works for international purchases, assuming the merchant ships to Australia. In the future it could support merchant loyalty programs, too.
"It's critical for us that we don't make it a Visa-centric app," said Vipin Kalra, Visa country manager for Australia.
Visa has already signed 40 financial institutions to support the V.me wallet, including all the major Australian banks except Commonwealth Bank. Visa is still in talks with e-commerce merchants but said it already has signed JB Hi-Fi, Cotton On, City Beach and Lorna Jane.
"We are continuing to talk with and work with a number of other financial institutions," Kalra said. "At the same time, we are also starting to work with a number of merchants ... who are testing the environment with us."
"We want to make sure that V.me is available to all Australian e-commerce merchants," said Greg Storey, Visa head of V.me for Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa.
When asked about CommBank's absence, Storey said "there are plenty who are considering and assessing what it takes to get involved, and we're comfortable that there's plenty of opportunities for all financial institutions to participate before Christmas".
Visa did not launch in Australia at the same time as the US because it needed more time to gain a "critical mass" of merchants and financial institutions, said Kalra.
Storey said the company modified its approach to enrolment after lessons learned in the American experience. Consumers wanted the financial institution to explain and promote the digital wallet service, he said. As a result, Australian financial institutions will be "very active in enrolment".
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