Visa launches token service to support Apple Pay and more

Visa Token Service, the payment network’s new platform that enables card account numbers to be replaced with digital tokens that ensure the cardholder’s actual card number is never shared with merchants, is now live and will be used to enable Visa cardholders to make use of Apple’s new NFC mobile payments service.


“Visa Token Service will be available to Visa Inc issuing financial institutions globally, starting with US financial institutions next month, and followed by a phased roll-out overseas beginning in 2015,” Visa says. “The technology has been designed to support payments with mobile devices using all major mobile platforms.”

Key benefits of Visa Token Service, the network says, include:

  • Consumer protection: Tokens replace the 16-digit account information found on plastic cards with a numeric substitute. This new identifier is called a digital account number and it can facilitate payment transactions without sharing sensitive personal account information.
  • Customized usage: Tokens can be limited to specific merchants, mobile devices or types of purchases — providing another form of innovation and security.
  • Convenience and cost effectiveness: Tokens linked to lost or stolen mobile devices can be instantly reissued without changing account numbers or reissuing plastic cards.
  • Easy processing: Tokens are based on existing ISO standards and can therefore be processed and routed by merchants, acquirers and issuers like traditional card payments.

“Over the past year, Visa has led the global payments industry in the development of new payments standards and services designed to protect consumers’ account information when shopping online and with mobile devices,” says Ryan McInerney, president of Visa Inc.

“More than 750 staff from across the Visa organization globally were involved in the effort, working closely with our initial launch partners — financial institutions, merchants and processors — to ensure the ecosystem was ready. Today, we are making these services available to our clients, and believe it will help transform connected devices and wearables into secure payment vehicles.”

“When you make the payment environment safer, you open up a world of possibilities where commerce can take place in different forms and consumers can shop anywhere, on any device, with confidence,” adds Visa CEO Charlie Scharf.

“Visa Token Service is yet another example of where we have opened up our network to create meaningful solutions in the form of new standards, tools and services that can enable digital payment experiences that are both engaging and secure.”

“We said from the beginning that token services would provide great new consumer and merchant experiences,” Scharf adds, “and you’re seeing it today in our efforts with Apple, and there’s more to come.”

Visa payments will be available on the Apple Watch as well as on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the network adds. Visa-owned CyberSource and have also integrated with Apple Pay for online payments, “providing online merchants with payment management solutions and supporting them to securely accept in-app payments from the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch.”

The launch of Visa Token Service follows a decision by MasterCard, American Express and Visa in 2013 to ask chip payment card standards body EMVCo to create a set of specifications for tokenization. Those specifications were published in March 2014. MasterCard is expected to announce the availability of similar services ahead of the launch of Apple Pay in October 2014.

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