“Tokenization does a couple of things brilliantly; one is it really helps on facilitating innovation, facilitating the use, for example, of mobile phones for payments,” Visa Europe’s Sandra Alzetta told NFC World following the payment network’s announcement of plans to launch a customised tokenization platform to European banks in April. “In addition to that, it really helps to further enhance security.”
With Visa Europe and Visa Inc being separate organisations working in different markets, Visa Europe’s tokenization offering can be expected to be broadly similar to, but a little different from, the Visa Token Service now running in the US.
“We actually have different systems in Europe so we have a different authorisation system and a different clearing and settlement system, so clearly anything we do has to be fully integrated to our own authorisation and clearing settlement systems. In addition to that, we really need to think about the needs of our banks in Europe in terms of onboarding,” Alzetta, executive director of core products for Visa Europe, explained.
“How do we actually service them and so on. From a non-technical perspective, within Europe, Visa Europe has its own rules, regulations, pricing, commercial arrangements and so on, so we’ve had to go through that and really pull together a complete service to meet the needs of our banks in Europe.”
“It will be very similar [to Visa Token Service] because it is heavily based on the platform which Visa Inc has developed,” Alzetta continued. “The functionality of the Visa Europe solution will adhere to the EMV standard, the tokens [work] in the same way as Visa Inc does as well.
“Really, what we’ve been focusing on is customising it for the European banks in terms of us having a service to make available to them. From mid-April onwards, the service will be available to our banks. So, from that point onwards, we will have actually installed it into our systems; it will be live, it will be available for the banks.
“Then, as with all of our services solutions, it’s up to the banks to come to us to say that they want to use it and then we’ll take them through the standard onboard, we’ll take them through certification, we’ll take them through testing and so on.”
“We’re excited about the opportunity with mobile; it’s been an area of focus for us for some time,” Alzetta added. “One of the remaining barriers to really moving to mass implementation is operational matters; how to find a way that’s sufficiently friction-free but still secure enough for consumers on a mass-market basis.
“We’ve done a lot of pilots; everyone knows we’ve got a consumer proposition that works so the question is really ‘how do we make that real?’. That’s what tokenization really addresses.”