BETTER DRAW: "Since the rebranding, we have seen the number of customers enrolling in the service double from its previous launch," said Tom Kunz, senior vice president of digital for PNC Bank.

Visa Checkout Redesign Improves Adoption, PNC Says

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The launch of Visa Checkout has attracted more interest from consumers than the launch of its earlier incarnation, V.me, according to PNC Bank.

"Since the rebranding, we have seen the number of customers enrolling in the service double from its previous launch," said Tom Kunz, senior vice president of digital for PNC, one of Visa's launch partners for both iterations of its digital payment product.

Kunz declined to provide specific numbers for enrollment in either service. Visa launched Visa Checkout last month as a streamlined version of V.me, converting all previous merchant and consumer users to the new product. Visa Checkout lets consumers pay with stored card credentials by typing a username and password when checking out at a merchant's site. The product works with any payment card but banks promoting the service hope it entices people to pay with their cards.

The Visa Checkout name more clearly defines what the service is, Kunz added.

The reported usage improvements come as banks worldwide continue to experiment to find new ways to collect interchange and advertising revenue tied to digital purchases. JPMorgan Chase, for example, has been developing a digital wallet so people can checkout online with only one click.

Pittsburgh, Pa.-based PNC, meanwhile, began offering V.me to its most tech-savvy customers in October of 2012 at the same time the card brand launched the e-commerce payment system.

To get the word out, PNC sent alerts to its customers, informing them of Visa's recent change. Adoption of Visa Checkout was also fueled by consumers' growing affinity for shopping from smartphones and tablets, Kunz said.

"With the abundance of mobile devices in the market, we are finding consumers are using their tablets and smartphones more to shop online," he said. "At the same time, many checkout experiences on these devices were not quick and easy."

Mobile commerce spending is growing at a 40% clip per year, said Jeff Crawford, senior consultant with First Annapolis Consulting LLC.

In this environment, Visa Checkout "is set up to be successful, but execution is everything," Crawford said. "Clearly, Visa had a couple of hiccups along the way, and it is hard to say if that was just how they were selling V.me or if it was the value proposition they were positioning with issuers and merchants."

Because PayPal "has done an extremely good job" in online and mobile commerce, convincing consumers to switch to a new system is "an uphill battle for Visa Checkout," Crawford added.

It is also interesting to note "how much is in the name," said Zil Bareisis, a London-based senior analyst for research firm Celent. "It seems that consumers are responding much better to Visa Checkout than V.me, although the two offerings are very similar" from the consumer's perspective, Bareisis added.

Visa Checkout also competes with MasterCard's digital wallet, MasterPass, which enjoyed a significant boost of its own more than a year ago when the card brand established a partnership with online service provider Web.com. MasterCard said that move expanded MasterPass acceptance to "tens of thousands" of merchants. This week, MasterCard announced a similar deal to extend its Simplify Commerce platform to Web.com clients.

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