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Visa CEO says mobile payments are coming, ready or not

In a call with analysts discussing the company's Q3 performance last week, Visa CEO Joseph Saunders reported on the company's progress with mobile payments over the past quarter. Saunders said Visa's efforts will eventually differentiate its mobile payment solution from other competitors offering an NFC-only solution. Saunders also said mobile payments remains a top priority of the company.

"(W)e are moving full speed ahead towards broad commercial availability," Saunders asserted.

Saunders said recent partnerships and acquisitions Visa has been involved in, including its recently announced agreement to join Isis' consortium of payment brands, are a part of its larger strategy to foster an open approach to mobile payments.

"Visa firmly believes an open approach is the key to success in mobile commerce," Saunders said. "So in addition to building Visa's own capability, our strategy must also enable Visa payments on third-party platforms."

Saunders also said the company's acquisition of Fundamo, a provider of mobile wallets in the developing world, will make mobile payments a reality in emerging markets. He told analysts the deal is already attracting potential partners and that Visa has received substantial interest from issuers and mobile operators in Asia and Latin America.

During a Q&A with analysts Saunders stressed that Visa will realize long term benefits from its investments in mobile payments. But Saunders also emphasized that whether or not mobile payments is good for Visa doesn't matter when it comes to the adoption of the technology.

"(B)etter or worse, [mobile payments] is occurring. It's going to happen," Saunders told analysts. He said the proliferation of cellphone ownership, and the "mind blowing" use of cellphones worldwide, means mobile payments is something Visa must be involved in.

According to Saunders, Visa has worked hard for a number of years to put together an integrated mobile network that puts Visa in a strong position for leading in mobile payments.

"(W)hat I'm particularly excited about is where we are in terms of putting infrastructure together that works with our Visa infrastructure. We aren't starting out by saying, 'Why don't you just slap a sticker on a cell phone and swipe it?'" Saunders said.

For more information on this topic, visit our research center on Carriers/Card Schemes.

(Quotes from the conference call are from the transcript provided at SeekingAlpha.com.) 

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