Integrated finance, the goal at Visa
The trends in electronic payments are clear for Vanessa Colella, global director of Innovation and Digital Partnerships at Visa: pay for your coffee from the car or that the vehicle itself is capable of having its own cash to get gas or settle the cost of your mileage service; buy a garment in the future metaverse; make a banking transaction using a virtual assistant with artificial intelligence and even easily give a donation to a content creator on TikTok from any device with cryptocurrencies, for example.
Colella calls all of this Integrated Finance, where cybersecurity, unified digital payment behavior, artificial intelligence and universalization of connectivity, can lead to us all stopping using physical currency in the short term. This is the future and the goal that Visa has for the coming years.
At Visa we've been using artificial intelligence (AI) for 30 years to prevent fraud and fix the guts of payments and the ecosystem. But now you are starting to see ideas that will affect not only the infrastructure layer, but also how we expect offers to be presented, how we expect to be spoken to on the phone and how we pay digitally thanks to generative AI. I have been very interested in integrated finance and integrated payments for many years. “Most of us are quite happy with payments being an integral part of our business and integrated finance is now on the verge of being able to do more for the customer, quickly, securely and with better experiences.”
Colella affirms that the company is paying a lot of attention to the social and creative economy. “If you think about it, in recent years we have 300 million creators around the world and you know that it is the next generation of small businesses or nanobusinesses. How do you take the creativity that you have, the ideas that you have and turn them into a business? “This is a place where we’re going to have to make sure people can get paid.”
The financing of social commerce It will change, he says, “not just who we trust when we pay well. Artificial intelligence helps us build robust systems that can be trusted. At the Metaverse, we focus on being the best way to pay and receive money anywhere. Even though it's still under construction, we know it's coming and I look at it like it's, you know, augmented reality or 3D on your mobile phone or in person, it's all about making safe, secure, reliable, seamless payments. That will happen over time, whether in the Metaverse or at your local coffee shop.”
Mexico, he added, is a super important market for Visa, the second largest in Latin America. “It is an economy in enormous growth, young that understands the future. With the entry of fintechs that changed our expectations as customers about what the experience should be, how it should work, it showed us a change. I see this market as one to watch and add an inflection point from which I believe a tremendous amount of innovation will emerge. That combination of youth, high amount of possible cash conversion, high digitalization and customer expectations shaped by players of all sizes, make the country a super interesting place to be.”
For Colella, virtual currencies can be an opportunity to create projects. “Something we did in Argentina was create Agra Token. There are working farmers who want to monetize their crops, but as in many supply chains the process to achieve this is not only cumbersome but also tends to give less influence to the producers themselves. So if they want to monetize their crop early, they are not in a very good position to negotiate. With the Visa token they can monetize all or part of the crop with many different banks.
Then, with the Visa platform, they can load that value onto their card. Whether they need to purchase additional supplies or finance a new tractor. All of that can happen smoothly easily. So I think when we think about cryptocurrencies or blockchain in general, we always look at what is the use case that adds value to our customers and how can we present these examples in countries for people to build them and not just think about this being will take over the world.”
One of the challenges they see at Visa is that people change their mental chip to digital payments, although for this more than the cultural issue, where older adults and access to equipment are combined, investment in connectivity infrastructure is also required.
A success story in Mexico is the Metrobús. People have become accustomed to paying for this and other transportation systems in the country's capital with a card. It's not just a new technology that has to emerge, but also the behavior of people and teaching them how to do it, so that they have confidence. When we, along with others, worked to ensure that they could board that bus with the touch of their card, it created not only the use of technology, but also new behavior. Once you have that, then you can get into the habit of thinking: 'oh, I can pay for the bus very easily, I would like to pay for my coffee in the same way, or my dry cleaning, even the person who helps me with my garden work I can pay from the phone. And what we see is the evolution of an important use case,'” explains Colella.
He states that in Mexico there is a continuous progression and, of course, there is still cash and use of it. “I mean there are cash problems in most markets in the world, but in the end there are many opportunities for other payment methods. It might be more convenient, but it might also be safer.”
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