Visa Launches PayPal-Like ‘Checkout’ Widget For Third-Party Websites

Visa wants to make the process of paying for goods on your phone or iPad as easy as swiping your credit or debit card at an offline retailer.

To do so, it’s adapting to Internet retail with the launch of Visa Checkout, a new payment option that will allow users to speed through the online checkout process in just a few steps.

Visa is introducing a username and password system for making payments, which would eliminate the need to enter a 16-digit credit card number.

“Merchants want to sell, they want to convert cardholders to sales,” said Sam Shrauger, Visa’s senior vice president of digital solutions, at an event announcing the launch. “People want to buy, people want to enjoy what they’re buying. What they don’t want to spend their time doing is paying.”

Visa isn’t the first to do this, of course. PayPal has offered a similar payment option for years, and more recently Amazon launched a competing payment button.

But Visa was careful to make it sound like it wasn’t competing with PayPal for these payments. CEO Charles Scharf called PayPal an “important partner” to Visa because many PayPal transactions are also paid for on Visa cards.

“We like those transactions,” he said. “But we shouldn’t have to rely on anyone else.”

Shrauger said the current arduous process often deters users from making purchases on small phone screens, with 86 percent of users abandoning shopping carts on mobile devices.

With Checkout, users simply select the Visa Checkout button on the merchandise page and enter a username password and select their card. Visa then automatically fills the payment form with their credit card and shipping information. Initially the service will be available at retailers like Neiman Marcus, Pizza Hut, Staples and United Airlines in the United States, Canada and Australia.

This isn’t the company’s first attempt at a faster online payment system. In 2011 Visa launched, the company’s digital wallet. However Shrauger emphasized that Checkout differed from a wallet, offering customers a faster way to get through the checkout process rather than using a variety of payment sources like

“Customers don’t want a wallet,” Shrauger said. “They want to be able to pay and be done with the experience.”

The product launched at an event at the company’s new San Francisco headquarters, where attendees tested the service with partners the company has already acquired, like Neiman Marcus. Visa also launched a mobile SDK, which developers can implement as they build apps for iOS and Android. At the event, Visa showed how this could be implemented with a bike share app.