Mehdi Musharraf Bhuiyan
Global payment technology titan Visa is planning to introduce its new solution option in Bangladesh this year, a senior company official has said.
The company looks to launch the contactless payment option named 'Visa payWave' sometime in October, said Joe Cunningham, Head of Risk of Asia Pacific operations at Visa.
"This year is a very important year for our clients in Bangladesh", Cunningham, who was in the capital recently to attend Visa Risk and Security Forum, said in an interview with the FE.
"From October onwards, every Visa card issued in Bangladesh will be payWave capable", Cunningham said, adding, "By 2023, all Visa cards in Bangladesh will be contactless".
The Visa official noted that apart from being fast and convenient, the contactless features of payWave are also safe and secured.
"payWave is the fastest way to pay. It is safer and more convenient", he said "The payment is complete in less than a second without the need to insert or swipe the card or wait for a PIN or signature".
"Customers simply hold their payWave card up to the special contactless reader, wait for the 'beep' and it is done", Mr Cunningham said.
Citing Australia's example, he said around 92 pc of all face to face Visa transactions were contactless transactions there.
Dwelling on Visa's business scenario in Bangladesh, the top executive termed it 'healthy'.
"We are doing quite good business here. There are more than 6 million Visa cards in use in Bangladesh, of which around 5 million is debit cards and around 1 million is credit cards", Mr Cunningham said.
Out of 57 commercial banks in Bangladesh, 44 are Visa clients, he added.
Bangladesh's low-fraud rate and high adoption of EMV hip technology means that the country is in a strong position in terms of secured card transaction, according to Mr Cunningham.
The key thing for ensuring security, he said is to eliminate the static information from the system.
"And we are doing that through enabling EMV chip technology for our cards and at the Point of Sales", he said. "Fortunately, Bangladesh is in a strong position. Fraud rate here is relatively low compared to other markets."
"There is also a strong adoption of EMV chip on the card issuing side as well as on the PoS side, which is quite encouraging. Because EMV chip drastically eliminates counterfeit or fraud", he added.
Noting that Bangladesh is still a cash-centric economy, the Visa top official emphasised increased investment from all the relevant players to encourage greater adoption of card-based payment.
"It would require investment from all the participants in the ecosystem to drive the necessary transformation", Mr Cunningham said.
"Financial entities or issuers need to grow their card issuance. Acquirers also need to continue their investment in necessary infrastructure", he added.
"There are many merchants who still do not accept cards. They need to learn and see the business case in terms of the investment they are going to make in card-based payments", he added.
The company is also planning to introduce its QR code-based payment solution in Bangladesh by the middle of this year.
Visa officials said that the QR-based payment can be an effective way to bring cashless payment to a wider segment of the society.
"QR code-based payment allows consumers to pay for goods and services by scanning a QR code on a smart phone or entering a merchant number into their feature phones", Mr Cunningham said.
"It is a great way of expanding cashless payment up to the grass-root level of the society because a growing number of people here in Bangladesh, these days, are using smart phones".
"From the merchant side, while it may be too expensive to buy a PoS machine for the small retailers, it takes only Tk. 500 to put a sticker of the qr code", he added.
Mr Cunningham noted that reloadable prepaid cards can be an effective mode of safe disbursement of government payments to the citizens.
"These days, the government is issuing lots of lots of cheques or making cash payments to its citizens as part of their social schemes".
"By putting virtual prepaid cards or reloadable prepaid cards into the hands of citizens, they can securely get those funds distributed without the risks of loss or fragmentation", he added.