Visa opens first innovation centre in Asia

Visa opened a 7,000 sq ft innovation centre in Singapore, its first in Asia.
Visa opened a 7,000 sq ft innovation centre in Singapore, its first in Asia.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - Imagine ordering and paying for your morning coffee through the interface of a digitally connected car before your morning drive to work, and then picking it up at the coffee shop when you get there.

This is an experience that will eventually be possible here, said a Visa executive.

The firm will seek to develop more of such payment solutions through its first innovation centre in Asia which opened here on Thursday.

The new 7,000 square foot centre will be a site where Visa works with partners like merchants, banks, startups and fintech players. It will also focus on making mobile payments more convenient and secure.

One of Visa's aims is to make it easier to pay for goods digitally, said Mr TS Anil, senior vice president and head of products for Asia Pacific said in a phone conversation with The Straits Times.

"For instance when you're in the store, you can check out with your mobile phone instead of having to queue up in the line with everyone else," he said.

Another focus area is making mobile payments more secure.

"This is about by protecting a consumer's personal information that they might otherwise put on the phone. What tokenisation does it that it converts the personal financial information like the credit card number etc, into an encrypted token which can only be used based on parameters that have been defined by the bank and Visa," Mr Anil said.

Also, Visa will engage companies "building the digital experiences of the future" like Facebook, Google, and Apple. It hopes to "make commerce payments relevant to the consumer's use of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple," said Mr Jim McCarthy, executive vice president, innovation and strategic partnerships.

The firm has about 1,300 staff here in two office sites here.

The centre here is the first in a network of new innovation centres that it is opening around the world in 2016 and 2017. It builds off the success of Visa's flagship innovation centre, which was opened in July 2014 in San Francisco.

Dr. Beh Swan Gin, chairman of the Singapore Economic Development Board, said at the opening ceremony that Singapore is building a "smart financial centre" where technology will be used to increase efficiency, create opportunities and manage risk.

"We are working closely with the Monetary Authority of Singapore to develop an ecosystem for innovation. Through this ecosystem, Singapore can be the 'lighthouse' for the commercialisation of new solutions before they are scaled globally," he said.

jkoh@sph.com.sg