MONTREAL -- Credit card giant Visa says it's focused on standardizing security standards for "micro-merchants" who accept its cards on mobile devices such as smartphones.
"Our role in that particular enterprise is largely to set the standards and be sure the device someone may be promulgating in the marketplace is going to be secure when a Visa card gets entered into it," said Ellen Richey, Visa's global chief enterprise risk officer.
Although Visa does not have a reader of its own, it has made an investment in credit card reader company Square Inc.
San Francisco-based Square provides small-business owners -- from home renovators to yoga instructors -- a small credit card reader that plugs into a headphone jack of an iPhone, iPad or Android device, allowing these merchants to accept credit card payments. Visa cards are then swiped with Square software rather than using chip-and-PIN technology.
Square takes a 2.75 per cent fee from each transaction.
"We are very much in favour of additional ways for people to accept payments and bring what we call micro-merchants into the payments system," said Richey, adding this is potentially a multibillion-dollar industry.
Deloitte Canada analyst Doug MacDonald said this type of technology has the potential to change how consumers make electronic payments.
Tapping and paying with a mobile phone is only a first step for consumers, said MacDonald, a senior manager at the consulting firm in Toronto.
"You could go to a sporting goods store and scan items with your cellphone and then make the purchase on your phone and walk out of the store and never have to get in line," he said.
MacDonald says he predicts more small businesses will use tablets instead of cash registers in the future.
Visa's Richey noted Canada is one of the leading countries globally -- along with Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore -- for high use of contact-less payments using both payment cards and smartphones.
She says consumers shouldn't have fears about using their smartphones to tap and pay.
-- The Canadian Press