EXCLUSIVE: ‘Pushing the digital payments envelope’ – Bill Sheley, Visa, in ‘The Fintech Magazine’
Bill Sheley, SVP and Global Head of Visa Direct, explains how its expanded capabilities are helping financial institutions and businesses respond to today’s expectations for fast, scalable payments
Visa has long been a leader in digital payments. Over the past 60 years, it has helped transform payments’ speed and reach through new technologies and partnerships that have enlarged and added value to its global network.
During that time, the rise of globalisation, changing consumer demands, and new business models have come to the fore, putting pressure on payments to keep up. The eruption of digitally-driven business models directly correlates to the growing need to enable faster access to funds for individuals and businesses alike. Hourly workers, merchants, and even those who want to send money to family and friends across borders are demanding flexibility and choice in how and when they pay and get paid.
Bill Sheley, SVP and global head of Visa Direct, says: “Like the many other areas of life that are shifting around the globe, payments are being transformed in many interrelated ways. You’ve got the rise of digital, the critical need and demand for speed and optionality, the impact of government regulations, the rise of global marketplaces, and the way fintechs are driving change. All of these things are putting pressure on payments to keep up with the services that consumers and businesses expect today.”
Businesses are looking for seamless ways to integrate the disbursement of money to customers, workers and merchants, and avoid the cost and hassle of lengthy and paper-based processes.
Enter Visa Direct, Visa’s real-time1 push payments platform that lets clients send and receive money quickly and securely across the world. Visa Direct has been rapidly growing, with nearly 3.5 billion transactions to date. It reverses the traditional pull function of payments to help businesses and consumers send money direct to an eligible card or account – and in real-time.
Visa already connects more than 15,000 financial institutions, 70 million merchant locations and 3.5 billion cards worldwide. But Visa Direct supports high-velocity, lower-value transactions across segments like peer-to-peer, business-to-consumer, business-to-small business and government-to-consumer, which represent an estimated market opportunity of $65trillion, says Sheley.
With the 2019 acquisition of Earthport, Visa Direct has further increased the company’s scale. Visa now operates one of the world’s largest independent account clearing house (ACH) networks, providing banks and their business customers with fast global reach, through both card and bank rails. In fact, Visa Direct now reaches 200 countries and territories2. Sheley says it helps take Visa ‘beyond the card’.
“We have billions of endpoints linked through our pay-out capability, and Visa Direct allows us to support a multitude of use cases that are cropping up. You have merchants, grocery workers, food delivery drivers, insurance claims, people sending money to family abroad, and so on. It’s a large ecosystem that can be connected in so many different ways.
“For the small business owner who needs to pay for inventory or run payroll, it all comes down to the immediacy and ease of payments. It’s about cash flow and meeting everyday needs.”
And for banks, the additional convenience, speed and security that Visa Direct offers can help them better serve the needs of business customers and can support the improvement of customer retention and engagement, he says.
Sheley notes that crossborder payments for both consumers and SMEs are a specific area of growth and identifies a need to break out of frameworks that are restricting international transactions.
“If you look at the way international payments typically work today, they use a series of local payment schemes, which generate a great deal of friction in the way money moves globally. We’re facilitating commerce in a whole new way. It’s faster, with security protocols, liquidity, transparency of the payment – and everything is connected through a single access point. You can focus on your business, not your back office, and avoid the complications of moving money around the planet.”
1.Actual fund availability varies by receiving financial institution, receiving account type, region, and whether transaction is domestic or crossborder
2. Availability varies by market. Please refer to your Visa representative for more information on availability