Visa Europe plans credit card-cloaking that could pave way for Apple Pay

Apple Pay is available in the recently updated iPhone 6 software and accepted in 220,000 stores. It allows iPhone users to pay for purchases using their iPhone's NFC capabilities instead of using their credit card. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Apple Pay is available in the recently updated iPhone 6 software and accepted in 220,000 stores. It allows iPhone users to pay for purchases using their iPhone's NFC capabilities instead of using their credit card. -- PHOTO: AFP 

FRANKFURT (REUTERS) - Visa Europe said on Tuesday it would offer a secure way for consumers to pay retailers with their smartphones while concealing credit card details, a move that could set the stage for Apple's Apple Pay and rival payment services to be introduced into Europe in coming months.

Visa Europe said it would introduce to member banks by mid-April a "tokenisation" service, a technique which substitutes random numbers for a user's credit card number when a merchant transmits transaction data, reducing the risk of online theft.

New token-based security from Visa Inc, a partner of Visa Europe, and rival card issuers MasterCard and American Express were considered by many experts to be a critical security enabler when Apple Pay was introduced in the United States last year.

The announcement is just one of several new payment services the London-based credit card giant is unveiling. These include a way for card customers to send money overseas to other Visa users via social media profiles on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or LinkedIn.