Visa unveils host card emulation specification for NFC payments


Visa has introduced a new standard that uses host card emulation (HCE) to enable financial institutions to securely host Visa accounts in the cloud. The standard is available now and will include support for QR codes and in-app payments in the future.

Visa’s move to support HCE includes tools and services as well as the standard:

  • Standards: Visa has enhanced its Visa PayWave contactless payment application and is introducing a new standard, requirements, program approval process and implementation guidelines.
  • Tools: Visa is also developing a software development kit (SDK) to support clients who wish to develop their own cloud-based payment applications or want to enhance their existing mobile banking applications with Visa PayWave functionality.
  • Services: Visa is developing a new service and platform that will enable clients and partners to issue Visa accounts digitally – in the cloud, on secure elements in smartphones, or linked to a digital wallet. This solution will also enable the issuance of payment tokens that will replace the 16-digit payment account number and can be limited for use with a specific device, payment channel or merchant.

“Visa will deploy several layers of security to protect payment accounts in the cloud, including at the Visa network, application and hardware levels,” the payments network says. “One-time use data, real-time transaction analysis, payment tokens and device fingerprinting technology make up a multi-layered defense against unauthorized account access.”

“Our clients and partners around the globe are continuously looking for flexible, cost efficient and secure ways to enable mobile payments,” says Elizabeth Buse, Visa’s executive vice president for global solutions. “The Android HCE feature provides us with a platform to evolve the Visa PayWave standard, support the development of secure, cloud-based mobile applications, while at the same time offer greater choice to our clients.”

“We introduced HCE to make it easier for developers to create NFC applications like mobile payments, loyalty programs, transit passes, and other custom services,” adds Benjamin Poiesz, Google’s Android product manager. “Visa’s move to enable NFC payments with Android devices is welcome news and will guide the way for the payments industry.”

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