Visa Launches Mobile Shopping Application

Visa Inc. has launched a mobile shopping application for Apple Inc.’s iPhone to enable holders of Visa cards to access various merchant discounts using their mobile phones, the card company reported on Dec. 14.

The free, downloadable Visa Mobile application, which United Kingdom-based Monitise PLC developed, offers consumers mobile-based coupons that use location-based services, Prakash Hariramani, senior business leader for Visa’s global mobile product group, tells PaymentsSource. Another function, which is similar to Visa’s RightCliq online shopping platform, enables Visa debit, credit and prepaid cardholders to receive discounts and offers from participating merchants, he says.

RightCliq is Visa’s online shopping service that launched in August (see story). Visa declined to give further details on whether the company will build a relationship between the two platforms.

The location-based service provides users with maps and directions to the nearest participating merchants and to nearby ATMs that accept Visa Plus transactions.

The application only works on iPhones, but Visa may add it to other smart phone platforms, Hariramani says.

Cardholders using the application may redeem offers using a numeric code when checking out online or at the point of sale, Hariramani says. The code is found on the offer consumers receive through the application. For online purchases, consumers enter the code to receive the discount. At the point of sale, a sales clerk would enter the code from the phone screen.

Additionally, some merchants may opt in to offer cardholders discounts through their registered Visa card statements, Hariramani explains.

Consumers receive offers based on the various categories they sign up for through the application, such as entertainment and convenience stores, Hariramani says. Users also may store the offers in the application for later use.

Visa Mobile also is free for merchants. Participants include Holiday Inn Hotels, Papa John’s International Inc. and Zales Corp. The application also enables holders of Visa Signature cards to receive additional offers, such as concierge services and discounts at various resorts, Hariramani notes.

This application is an example of “the type of technology that may make a difference sometime down the road, but not right now,” Ron Shevlin, a senior analyst with Boston-based Aite Group LLC, tells PaymentsSource. The application currently is not “changing the buying or shopping experience,” Shevlin contends.

Visa may have more than 50 merchants participating, but the types of merchants are not necessarily where consumers shop regularly, Shevlin says. Moreover, the application seems focused on the delivery method instead of the offer, he adds.

To consumers, the quality of the offer is what is the most important, Shevlin contends. “If Visa knows that much about you, then what is the difference if the offer is delivered via e-mail or viewed in an online account statement?” Shevlin says. “The application is essentially re-creating e-mail marketing, but through a mobile phone.”


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