In an effort to boost consumer confidence and encourage online buying, Visa International is promoting two new measures: an extension of its security requirements to all new global merchants and an electronic wallet for secure Internet payments.
Starting Nov. 15, Visa plans to require all new Internet retailers that sign up with member banks to be fully compliant with its security standards and to ask that existing retailers work with Visa security experts to become compliant if they are not already.
The security initiatives are part of a continuing effort to "promote consumer activity," said Brian Buckley, vice president of risk management for Visa. People reluctant to buy online, he said, continue to cite security concerns as a main reason.
One Visa security standards is that all Web merchants "prominently display their privacy policies and online security capabilities."
Another is that in the event of a valid transaction dispute, consumers must be refunded, Mr. Buckley said. "If they've made every effort to recover their refund but the merchant is unable or unwilling to provide a refund, the cardholder's bank will provide a refund," he said.
"These are practices that have been followed by leading Web merchants for some time, and we feel it is important to extend these standards to all of our merchants globally," said Philip Yen, executive vice president of e-Visa.
Visa is promoting a Web site, www.visa.com/secured, where all online merchants can fill out a questionnaire to determine whether they are in compliance with the association's security requirements. Most merchants adhere to these standards, Mr. Buckley said, but for those that score low on the questionnaire, Visa security experts will offer compliance assistance.
In a separate announcement, Visa International said that its European Union division has made an electronic wallet product available to members as a tool to authenticate customers online. The company said the service will help build consumer confidence in electronic commerce and reduce fraud.
Bankgesellschaft Berlin will be the first bank to issue the new Visa electronic wallet. Because the wallet's security software is stored on a server instead of a cardholder's personal computer, a cardholder will eventually be able to use the wallet from a variety of access devices, such as personal digital assistants and mobile phones, Visa said.
Visa is charging banks $50,000 to enroll in the wallet service, with a continuing annual fee of $20,000 and per-use costs.
"By providing a server-based wallet service, Visa is ensuring that all of our members will have access to an easy-to-implement, cost-effective solution for providing authentication services to cardholders," said Jon Prideaux, executive vice president of Virtual Visa. "Visa is the only organization that can credibly provide secure online payment, and we are working with our member banks to ensure secure e-commerce is a day-to-day reality by October 2001."