​The future value of commerce lies in partnerships: Visa Australia

In a bid to keep up with the rapidly changing commerce scene, payments giant Visa is adopting a collaborative approach by partnering with organisations big and small for future development.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor on

Visa has historically worked with banks and large technology providers to deliver its payments products globally. But, Rob Walls, head of product for Visa Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, believes co-creation and leveraging talent from smaller fintech players is what drives their future.

Walls told ZDNet that as technology has been advancing rapidly over the last couple of years, business practices have changed and new emerging business models have impacted the way commerce as a whole is run.

"We've realised that no single entity can create all of the new innovation -- particularly in payments -- and so what we've come to realise is the value is really in co-creation," he said.

"Commerce is changing; we've got new business models like Uber, Freelancer, Airtasker -- all of those organisations are operating in this new, digital environment. They've all got a need for payment, and payment in those new business models is kind of in the background -- it becomes part of the platform experience."

As a result, Visa is reaching out to organisations with the desire to develop new business models or new payment experiences, giving them access to Visa's extensive network in return.

Walls said Visa is evolving its definition of a partnership by opening up its Visa network to work with others in new ways.

In 2015, Visa launched the Everywhere Initiative in the US, a competition that poses three real-life challenges to the startup community in order to generate new ideas for commerce, and brought the competition to Australia this year.

"We've been working with a whole bunch of collaborators, accelerators, and incubators in the Australian and New Zealand market and we landed with Tank Stream and Icehouse because they gave us a very fast time to market, and easy access to the type of startup organisations we were aiming to partner with on this particular initiative," Walls said.

"There are many, many small organisations around the world who have great ideas but don't necessarily have access to some of the capabilities that companies the size of Visa have, so this is a way for us to bridge the gap between Visa as a global organisation to those smaller developer organisations to create new great outcomes for consumers."

Walls said the payment giant is able to pilot with one or a more of the participating organisations to bring some of their technologies to the global stage.

"We're trying to extend our business, building partnership billing models with new service providers so it's not just our traditional ecosystem we're operating in," Walls said. "We're extending our reach into new entities that have a desire or ability to create new customer experiences."

With approximately 19 million developers worldwide, Walls said it is an exciting time to be in payments.

"When you look at the number of fintech companies today -- 10 years ago there was 850 and today there's around 3,100," he said.

"With human-centred design really improving the way humans interact with machines, it's really changing the way that commerce is being done. It's our role to really make sure that we're setting the conditions, writing all of the tools that integrators and technology providers will need to make that happen."

According to Walls, innovation can now come from anywhere.

"People say that banks are under threat from technology disrupters, but I actually think it's more that the banks are engaging with the technology disrupters to bring innovation into the banks or to expose banking platforms to innovators," he said.

On Tuesday, the National Australia Bank announced it had been working on a new banking app to allow its customers to turn off features of Visa debit and credit cards on the fly.

Users will be able to temporarily block cards, turn off online shopping, disable PayWave functionality, and prevent cash withdrawals from ATMs.

The new app comes as the result of a partnership Visa and NAB kicked off in November, with the bank saying it was able to save around six months of development time.

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