Visa on Thursday unveiled a major new initiative to open its products and services to application developers, promising that merchants and other customers and partners will be able to build customized apps tailored for their businesses running on the firm’s platform.
At an event announcing the launch in San Francisco, Rajat Taneja, Visa’s executive vice president of technology, hailed the move as a “milestone” in the company’s history that would “catalyze innovation in digital commerce.”
“We believe this period of time is as important as when Visa was first formed,” Taneja said.
“Access to our network was very controlled. Our network was a closed network,” he added. “Historically we have packaged these different services as products and then released then a few times a year. Today we are giving our clients, our partners and developers all over the world direct access to these digital services.”
With the launch, Visa is offering developers access to 155 of its products and services, with plans to steadily add to that total and build out the platform. To start, Visa selected its most popular and recognizable offerings, such as Visa Checkout and its currency conversion service.
The payments giant had made its platform available to a limited number of trial partners ahead of the roll-out. One was Emirates NPD, the Dubai-based bank that caters to a wealthy clientele who are frequent global travelers. Emirates developed a mobile app on Visa’s platform to help identify and authenticate its customers when they are making a purchase in a foreign country, improving its fraud-detection service by eliminating false positives.
“We’ve got very, very high spending customers,” said Charles Lobo, an executive with the bank. “One of the challenges with such a transient population is the fraud risk.”
Another firm, VenueNext, has been using the Visa platform to facilitate commerce inside sporting complexes, including Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., site of this Sunday’s Super Bowl.
With the platform, Visa is rolling out hundreds of application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits that developers around the world can use to build apps that hook into Visa products. The development kits will include documentation, code snippets and support services, and Visa is offering a testing sandbox where developers can take their creations on a trial run.
Visa CEO Charlie Scharf sees the developer platform in part as a response to the rise of what he calls “connected commerce,” an increasingly digital retail environment where purchasing decisions are influenced by consumer reviews, friends’ recommendations and other online interactions.
“Connected commerce is a reality, as we all know, and it’s changing the entire buying experience,” Scharf said.
“Commerce, as we know, used to be very, very simple,” he added. “Today things are extraordinarily different. People are influenced by what others are buying and are able to share what they think about those items.”
Read more on Visa.com/developer.