Whether online or at store, card based payments can toggle between credit and debit options. Even payment by instalments or in a different currency. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Did the whole payments process just get easier for consumers?

Visa, the payments company, is hoping it will be so by combining debit and credit features into the same issued card. And even adding the option to pay through limited instalments, much like how the BNPL (buy now pay later) platforms operate. And even switch between currencies.

Visa calls the whole process a ‘toggling’, where the cardholder can decide how best to make a payment on a particular transaction and then use another payment option for a second one. All while using the same card.

“We surveyed seven countries – including the UAE – as part of our 2024 Global Shopping Index and found that 3 in 4 consumers want the ability to use their preferred payment method when transacting,” said Godfrey Sullivan, Visa’s Senior Vice-President for Solutions & Digital Partnerships for CEMEA markets.

“That’s a substantial percentage of people who want to have choice and flexibility at their fingertips.”

This card feature will be introduced in the UAE and Gulf markets within the coming months.

Once the toggle payment process goes big, consumers will end up having to carry fewer cards around.

“The ‘Visa Flex Credential’ simplifies the checkout experience by putting the power of choice in each person’s hands, enabling you to pay in credit, debit, installments, or even multi-currency at point-of-sale,” said Sullivan.

“Cardholders can also pre-set their preferences so that every time they make a payment that’s above a certain amount – say Dh500 – it’s automatically paid in credit. The same can be said for specific types of purchases; for instance, airline tickets can be set to always be paid in installments.”

Less of cash

That new ways – or reworking of existing ways - of payments will be rolled out by the global payments industry is a given. Much of the focus has been on easing the digital payment experiences for users, as less of cash becomes the norm to settle transactions.

"What Visa Payment Passkey Service does is that it binds your account credentials to your device - your smartphone – enabling you to utilize the biometrics to unlock the device to also authenticate payments...," says Godfrey Sullivan of Visa. Image Credit: Supplied

But if the toggle payment means users making do with fewer cards, doesn’t Visa lose out? Because consumers just don’t need that many cards, whether credit or debit.

“We see a huge shift towards digital issuance, and today's announcement is in line with that shift – giving consumers choice, flexibility, and control over their payments,” said Sullivan.

“We’re offering options packed into a single, feature-rich card, crafting a product that can grow with consumers, with fewer cards but same access to multiple accounts many consumers have.”

Biometrics and security

Along with easing the payment ways, securing those transaction processes is the other big agenda for the industry. And for its consumers, merchant partners, banks and every other stakeholder. “Today, online payment fraud is seven-times higher than in-person payments,” says the company.

This is where Visa hopes to make some added security through its ‘payment passkey’ feature. This helps identity and authorizes cardholders’ online payments with a quick scan of their biometrics like a face or fingerprint.

The Visa passkeys ‘replace the need for passwords or one-time codes, enabling more streamlined and secure transactions’.

“We currently partner with digital wallets to support their own payments solutions in several ways,” said Sullivan. “With Visa Payment Passkey, developed in line with Fast Identity Online (FIDO) standards, we’re creating convenient digital identity, just for payments.

“We are also improving the ecommerce experience with Visa Click to Pay, which allow consumers to complete their transactions with only their mobile number of email address, removing the need to enter full card numbers.

“Implementing passkeys and biometric authentication can help combat fraud by confirming you are you, enabling safer and more secure payments across devices and websites.”