Visa Readying More Mobile Payment APIs, SDKs

Visa this week debuted Visa Cloud Payment Solutions, a new way to put the power of credit card purchasing into most any connected device. As with all such efforts, Visa's dream will mean little without the help of developers working behind the scenes to make it all work smoothly. Visa is preparing to extend its Developer Center with an array of tools, including APIs and SDKs.

Visa's Cloud Payment Solutions takes mobile payments in a new direction. Most current mobile payment systems work in one of several ways. For example, smartphones equipped with NFC radios and supporting software can make credit card payments by tapping their phone on compatible readers in retail shops. Other methods employ apps with barcodes or text message tools that are exchanged at the register. Many of these rely on credit cards and the 16-digit numbers signaling individual accounts. As we all know, credit card numbers are fraught with risk. 
The Cloud Payment Solutions won't rely on credit card numbers. Instead, it introduces the idea of a digital token. The token can be built into most anything, including smartphones, tablets, and wearables, for mobile payments. Visa claims the tokens are much more secure and offer all the same benefits as today's mobile payment methods.
For example, the Visa Token Service offers:

  • Consumer Protection: Tokens replace the 16-digit account information found on plastic cards with a numeric substitute, facilitating payment transactions without sharing sensitive account information.
  • Industry Innovation: Tokens can be stored directly in mobile devices, online eCommerce applications and cloud-based mobile applications, which will spur new commerce experiences.
  • Restricted Use: Tokens can be limited for use with specific merchants, mobile devices or types of purchases.
  • Convenience and Cost Effectiveness: Tokens linked to lost or stolen mobile devices can be instantly reissued without changing account numbers or reissuing plastic cards. 
  • Easy Processing: Tokens are based on existing ISO standards and can therefore be processed and routed by merchants, acquirers and issuers like traditional card payments.

All these benefits can be applied to wave-to-pay, scan-to-pay, and click-to-pay methods. For example, Visa released an SDK not too long ago that makes it easier for merchants, financial institutions, and application developers to embed Visa payWave into their mobile apps. Developers can choose to store the account information either in Visa's cloud or on a secure element in the device. Last week Visa debuted a new API for Visa Checkout, a quick and easy payment service that enables consumers throughout the United States, Canada and Australia to pay for goods online, on any device, in just a few clicks.
Many of Visa's developer tools are already available, but the company has big plans for early 2015, which it will relaunch the Developer Center. The center will offer developers product specifications, APIs, SDKs, as well as implementation guidelines for financial institutions, merchants and third-party payment providers.

Be sure to read the next Payments article: Payment Security, Authentication Key Concern for Apple Watch Users