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Visa: 253 merchants, 90 financial institutions now support V.me digital wallet

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Visa announced that 90 U.S. banks, including Bank of America, PNC Bank, BBVA Compass and others, now support its V.me digital wallet service. That number is almost double the 50 that supported the offering in November. Further, Visa said that fully 253 merchants have agreed to support the company's V.me service, a number that includes 72 merchants signed on during the second quarter.

"So there is a lot more coming here, there is a fairly significant pipeline of merchants," said Visa CEO Charles Scharf during the company's recent earnings call, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha.

Visa, which has said it has been working on digital wallets since 2011, said V.me exited beta testing late last year. The company said the product enables consumers to make real-world and online purchases via smartphone, tablet or PC--instead of entering their account number, billing data and shipping information for each transaction, shoppers simply input their username and password. In addition to Visa cards, V.me also supports cardholder accounts from rivals MasterCard, American Express and Discover. Consumers can visit www.V.me to enroll and begin shopping at online retailers including 1-800-Flowers.com, Shoebuy.com, Cooking.com and others.

Of course, Visa' V.me is one of a large and growing number of digital wallet and mobile commerce offerings. The space is filling with the likes of Square, PayPal, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Wallet and Isis, spearheaded by Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS).

During Visa's second quarter earnings conference call, Scharf addressed the increasingly complicated space, which he broadly dubbed "tokenization." He argued Visa is working to both compete and cooperate where necessary.

"Successful tokenization initiatives must also be interoperable and standardized and do several very important things. Number one is they need to deliver value to all stakeholders, that includes issuers, consumers, merchants, acquirers, payment gateways, and everyone involved in the digital commerce platform," Scharf said. "It's got to be standards based, technology agnostic such that a tokenization solution builds on the existing open nature of the payments industry while also aligning with emerging payment innovation systems mobile and digital wallets. As I said before, it needs to deliver at least the same level as transparency and reliability that exists today. And equally important it needs to address the needs of everyone globally, not just in the United States."

Concluded Scharf: "We're committed to working on this broadly with all of our partners. It's something that we are working on and we feel very good about the progress that we're making with our partners on this one."

Though it's no surprise that Visa is focusing much of its energy on the space. The head of mobile for Visa Europe, Sandra Alzetta, recently predicted that by the end of the decade over half the transactions made in the region would be conducted on smartphones. 

For more:
- see this Seeking Alpha transcript

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