Visa Snares Only 2 Clients for Mobile Location Service

  • JJ Hornblass
  • February 22, 2016
  • 2

It is just more than a year since Visa introduced its Mobile Location Confirmation service.

And Visa has managed to nail down but two clients.

MLC, as Visa refers to the offering, is a mobile service that uses geo-location information to predict whether it is the account holder or an unauthorized user making a payment with a Visa account. A part of Visa’s security toolkit, MLC is arguably the most widely relevant geo-location service for payments introduced in recent years.

However, Visa, for some reason, has failed to convince banks to sign on to it. Only Emirates NBD has formally signed on to the service, and that was last April. Emirates NBD has around $77 billion of assets.

Visa told Bank Innovation last week that payment processor TSYS is also using the APIs through the newly released Visa Developer Platform, but no formal MLC announcement has been made by the companies.

MLC promised to greatly reduce transaction declines for traveling cardholders. Here’s how Visa framed the service when it was launched in February 2015:

While infrequent, unnecessary transaction declines can mean lost sales for retailers, additional customer service costs for financial institutions and, ultimately, frustration for the cardholder if unable to make a purchase when traveling. According to Visa estimates, issuing financial institutions spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually to manage customer service calls related to pre-travel requests and to research declined transactions.

By providing financial institutions greater intelligence when approving transactions, Visa expects to reduce such declines by as much as 30 percent, impacting millions of transactions annually and improving the experience for cardholders, merchants and financial institutions.

Visa insists that while Emirates NBD and TSYS are the only issuers using the MLC service, “we’re expecting some news in the coming months,” a spokeswoman told us.

In fact, that appears to be the case. In an interesting recent kickoff to his new blog on Medium, Dominic Venturo, EVP and Chief Innovation Officer of U.S. Bank (a partner in Bank Innovation’s newly launched INV fintech accelerator), disclosed that at U.S. Bank, “Visa Mobile Location Confirmation is one of the things we’ve piloted and are looking to make available to customers later this year.”

U.S. Bank would obviously be a big win for the Visa geo-location service.

Why, exactly, banks have not run to adopt the Visa service is anyone’s guess. From the launch video below, the service seems to have great reach and import. We can’t say whether Visa’s pricing reflects that, or whether implementation has been a hurdle. Venturo did indicate in the blog, as referred above, that a pilot is necessary before MLC goes live at the Minneapolis bank.

Gain more insights on innovation at Bank Innovation 2016 in Seattle, Feb. 29 to Mar 1. Click here for details.


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JJ started the first iteration of Bank Innovation back in 2007, and has been working on it ever since. He also serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of Royal Media, Bank Innovation’s parent. He founded Royal in 1995 and oversees all aspects of the New York-based diversified media company. Prior to forming Royal, JJ was on the editorial staff of American Banker, the daily newspaper, and worked as an editor of a business magazine in Hong Kong. As a reporter and editor, he has won journalism awards from the National Press Foundation, Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Foundation, and the Reader’s Digest Foundation. He has a BS in Economics from Yeshiva University and a Master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was also a Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School of Banking. He lives in New York City with his wife, two daughters, and son. He counts among his accomplishments one New York City Marathon, two New York City Triathlons and the 2010 Father’s Day 5K, the first race he ever ran with his daughters. He can be reached at or 212-564-8972.

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