New Visa platform uses transaction data to give consumers automatic discounts

Tests of the Visa Commerce Network in Boston last December saw Uber riders get a discounted fare when they used their Visa to pay at a local Shake Shack.

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Visa has announced the launch of its new Visa Commerce Network.

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The platform works by connecting transactions between two merchants, and then using that transaction data to help merchants offer targeted discounts and benefits to cardholders.

On a call with investors Thursday, Visa CEO Charlie Scharf said the Visa Commerce Network is built on the TrialPay platform, which Visa acquired in 2015. It's available to merchants through a set of APIs.

For merchants, Visa says the program will help with acquiring new customers, building loyalty and increasing sales. Cardholder participation in the program is voluntary and users must give consent to be tracked by the system.

But the big selling point for consumers is that it eliminates the need for coupons, redemption schemes and discount codes -- the unified platform simply distributes rewards when appropriate.

For example, tests of the program in Boston last December saw Uber riders get a discounted fare when they used their Visa to pay at a local Shake Shack. With the entire rewards process happening on the backend, the discounts would automatically appear in the consumer's Uber account.

Beyond the initial trial, Uber is now rolling out Visa Commerce Network in 10 cities nationwide. In addition to Uber and Shake Shack, Visa said more than a dozen merchants are enrolled in the program, including Dunkin' Donuts and theater chain Regal Cinemas.

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