Visa Europe's plan to annually invest $144.2 million into mobile payments and e-commerce illustrates the card association's view of those areas as opportunities for growth.

The investment will help lead to commercial mobile payment rollouts starting at the end of this year, Visa Europe's chief executive, Peter Ayliffe, said during an April 8 presentation at the Visa Insight conference in Barcelona, Spain.

Zilvinas Bareisis, a senior analyst for Celent, said in an interview that his conversations with Visa Europe revealed that mobile payments are high on its agenda. "The way they are thinking about this, if they build a platform for their banks to leverage, they would be fulfilling that role as an association that provides benefits to the whole banking community," he said.

Visa Europe is an association of about 4,000 member European banks that had collectively issued more than 419 million Visa debit, credit and commercial cards throughout the European Union as of the end of September. Visa Europe formed in 2004 and remained independent after Visa Inc. went public in 2008.

That Visa Europe is investing in mobile and e-commerce suggests it will provide a platform from which its member banks can provide their own services, Bareisis said. "It's sort of similar to the cards model," he said.

Ayliffe during his speech at the conference highlighted Visa Europe's card growth over the past year as it has worked to move from the use of cash to electronic payments. Visa Europe expects its cardholders will spend a combined $2.9 trillion with their cards by 2015.

"In just 10 years, we have moved from 1 euro in every 18 euros spent in Europe on a Visa card to 1 euro in 8 euros," Ayliffe said. "Today, we have committed to accelerate this displacement of cash by bringing to the market ways to pay that bring true convergence between electronic payments and mobile and e-commerce technology."

Those remarks indicate Visa Europe is still very much discussing the war against cash, with mobile payment playing a key role, Bareisis said.

Since 2004, Visa Europe has invested about $1.4 billion in payment technology, it said in its annual report. Those funds have contributed to Visa Europe's efforts to promote its transaction-processing infrastructure, contactless technology and mobile and e-commerce payments.

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