Visa, IBM Partnership Is a Leap Forward for Cashless

  • Grace Noto
  • February 16, 2017
  • 1

Behold, the rise of IoT—plus, the rise of the cashless economy?

Visa, the payment processor responsible for over half of the world’s electronic transactions, will be integrating its credit card tokenization technology with Watson’s Internet of Things network.

Watson is the crown jewel of IBM’s work in artificial intelligence, for those just venturing out from under their rocks; the partnership with Visa was announced today alongside other IoT initiatives in industries like auto, crowdfunding websites, and the (French) railroad.

Watson’s network will provide a platform to connect and manage Visa’s technology (which turns payment information into unique digital “tokens” to protect the user’s personal details) with individual IoT devices.

Jim McCarthy, executive VP, innovation and strategic partnerships for Visa, said in a statement:

The Internet of Things is not only driving a more connected world, it’s changing the way we live, shop and pay, by moving data and the point-of-sale to wherever the consumer wants it to be.With the power of Watson’s cognitive technologies and IBM’s leadership in IoT and security, they are the ideal partner to help us deliver secure payments to ‘virtually anywhere’ and on the enormous scale of the IoT.

Both companies see an opportunity to change the way business is conducted on a global scale, which is no wonder considering the proposed scale of the partnership: according to IBM, the aim is to connect 20 billion devices with Visa by 2022.

One such change might be the final death of cash as a method of pay—20 billion, with a “B,” is a lot of devices which will be equipped with secure individual identifiers.

These devices might not overshadow cash at first, but the benefits might add up over the years.  IoT devices could eliminate the need for card swipes, for instance, especially as Watson grows smarter.

Visa is not new to IoT innovation, which goes beyond wearables like smartwatches–the company recently partnered with Honda for in-vehicle payments, for instance. Visa isn’t the only one in payments experimenting, either: IoT devices slowly filtering into this space include coffee cups, rings, and refrigerators like the smart fridge designed by Mastercard and Samsung.

Mastercard has recently stepped up its own research into IoT by partnering with companies like Accenture, and discussing the future emergence of smart cities–a development that might be growing closer as users flock to more virtual methods of pay but continue to avoid mobile payments at the point-of-sale.

There’s a potential future here (envisioned by IBM, as one can see in the video below) where users don’t even have to tell Watson to buy milk, because the AI will already know, and has already bought it with the customer’s unique Visa token ID.

This does beg the question, however: if the device is what’s authenticating the payment–possibly without even needing the user’s permission–then what role is there for banks in the Internet of Things?

To learn more about the internet of things, join us in San Jose on March 6-7 for Bank Innovation 2017, where the best conversations in fintech take place. Request your invitation here.

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