June 6, 2010

Visa Canada sees progress in contactless rollout

TORONTO--Visa Canada says it has seen “slow but steady progress” in merchant acceptance of Visa payWave-enabled contactless cards in Canada. “We’ve actually seen an upsurge in the last few months,” Shirley Matthew, Head of Chip Platforms at Visa Canada, tells Payments Business.

Merchants that have recently started to accept Visa payWave (http://www.visa.ca/en/merchant/paywave/index.html) include Subway, Second Cup, The Jean Coutu Group, Country Style, and Coffee Time. In addition, TD Canada Trust and RBC Royal Bank of Canada have started issuing Visa PayWave-enabled cards.

“Our expectation is that, by the end of 2010, there will be several million Visa PayWave cards in issue in Canada,” Matthew says. “It’s a chicken-and-egg situation. You need the contactless cards to be issued, but you also need the merchants. That’s why we have been working with merchants to help them deploy Visa PayWave.”

Visa payWave allows cardholders to simply "wave and go" by waving their card in front of a point-of-sale terminal without the need to physically insert the card into the device. For contactless transactions worth less than C$50, cardholders are not required to sign or enter a PIN (http://www.visa.ca/en/merchant/pdfs/paywave.pdf).

Matthew says that Visa PayWave is being rolled out in tandem with Visa’s migration to EMV chip-and-PIN technology in Canada. “Visa PayWave is based on EMV,” she says. “There is a lot of security built into Visa PayWave to prevent unauthorized access to cardholder data.”

One of the advantages of contactless technologies such as Visa PayWave or MasterCard’s equivalent, MasterCard PayPass, is that they enable card issuers to put payment applications into devices such as key-fobs, mini-cards or cellphones.

Last year, Visa Canada and RBC were involved in a mobile payments trial with Rogers Communications, in which participants were able to make purchases using Near-Field Communications (NFC) equipped cellphones containing Visa PayWave. NFC is a technology that enables a customer to transmit their payments information to a contactless card reader by holding their cellphone in close proximity to the device.

During the Vancouver Winter Olympics, Visa issued Coca Cola bottle-shaped contactless Visa prepaid cards to the athletes so they could buy drinks at Coca Cola dispensers. “This proved very popular with the athletes,” Matthew says.



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