Taking contactless payments by storm – Viva Wallet interview

Monday 24 May 2021 12:33 CET | Editor: Vlad Macovei | Interview

Yannis Larios, Viva Wallet’s VP for Strategy and Business Development, provides insights into the status of innovation of contactless payments in Europe, its benefits and hurdles, and what Viva Wallet’s Tap-on-Phone solution has to offer

What is your take regarding contactless payment innovation in Europe in general? 

We are already experiencing a strong shift in Europe towards contactless payments, including PIN-enabled contactless transactions, in conjunction with a trend that disintermediates businesses from the legacy EMV card terminals. Merchants and retailers of all sizes are already using ECR devices or e-invoicing software in tablets, electronic cashiers, and enterprise equipment and are burdened by the requirement to also keep on the side a legacy ‘dumb’ card terminal, just for accepting a card payment.

Merchants are requesting more and more a single device solution, essentially eliminating the need for legacy EMV devices. To address this demand, Viva Wallet is launching its ‘Tap-On-Phone’ solution as a certified app that works on any existing Android smartphone or tablet and essentially permits businesses to accept contactless payments, including PIN-enabled transactions, on any device. 

As this trend accelerates, we will experience a vast increase in contactless payments supported by ECRs, ERPs, electronic cashiers, and e-invoicing-enabled tablets across Europe. It’s high time businesses across Europe are liberated by this ‘90ish technology of the legacy card terminal, isn’t it?

What were the major influences leading up to the progress made by contactless payments and which are the challenges this area of the industry still has to face? 

As with every new wave of technology, this shift to totally contactless payments without EMV card terminals will require some new standards to be established. The challenges ahead are mostly focused on the payment providers who would like to enable them. There are several technological approaches in the European market already, for what is also called a SoftPOS, however not all solutions are yet certified, and especially through the payment providers, by labs. Payment providers have a long road ahead to deploy this new technology and then, there is a multitude of local card schemes in Europe - dominant in several countries - which should also be activated over this new technology. You can’t have a different payment acceptance app for each different method.

Being active in 23 European countries through local branches, Viva Wallet has already deployed its own ‘Tap-On-Phone’ solution and we are already enabling it for merchants, not just for the international card schemes but also for the local payment methods, within the same app. Within the next 2-5 years we will see a huge shift in this direction.

Viva Wallet raised USD 80 million in April 2021 and this investment was partly used to fuel the launch of the Tap On Phone solution. What benefits does this initiative bring to your customers and does it stand out? 

Viva Wallet raised USD 80 million to push forward its ‘Tap-On-Phone’ solution across Europe and to further accelerate its expansion plan to provide payment services and credit locally in 23 European countries. Viva Wallet’s ‘Tap-On-Phone’ is something that clients of all sizes request. On the micro-SME side, and this also includes the professionals, there is a huge advantage in utilising an already existing Android device for accepting card payments everywhere, either in-store or on the road. Not to mention the ability to activate an account digitally in minutes, download the Viva Wallet app, and start accepting cards in minutes. But it’s also the big retailers, who are also currently using BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policies within their vast stores, who would like any member of their staff to fulfil a product order, invoice it, fetch it to the customer right there on the spot, and get paid immediately, eliminating the queues at the cashiers.

Tap-on-phone technology will not only ditch the EMV card terminal. It will also re-model the legacy way of paying and checking out from any store to a more efficient, frictionless experience that will save consumers’ time and hassle. 

What are Viva Wallet’s plans for the approximate future, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for you?

Viva Wallet has a coherent strategy for enabling payments locally in 23 European countries, through a pan-European payments infrastructure. As we are coming out of a COVID-hit Europe, with multiple lockdowns across all economies, we are now experiencing very strong growth in payments on a month-to-month basis and accelerated demand for whatever can make businesses across Europe work more efficiently. In a way similar to what we have done with Tap-On-Phone, we have now launched our Smart Checkout, a self-adapting checkout page for online stores, which allows merchants to activate payments with a ‘single-line-of-code’ integration, taking away all the hassle of optimising conversion rates or adapting to any changes in PSD2, SCA, 3DS2, etc. as mandated. In 2021 we are bringing new payments technology to our clients, as they are embarking on the optimisation of their businesses. And all that, to be the first to deploy the payment method which will dominate Europe in the upcoming years: the SEPA Credit transfer with account-to-account instant payments.

About Yannis Larios

Yannis Larios is an Electrical and Computer Engineer with a PhD in Financial Risk management. He has extensive experience in the Payments and Financial Services Market of Europe, as well as in Business Strategy and Public Policy formulation in the fields of Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) and eGovernment since 1995. He joined Viva Payments in March 2012 in the role of Business Development Director and he is currently the VP for Strategy and Business Development.

About Viva Wallet

Viva Wallet is the first European entirely cloud-based neobank with offices in 23 European Countries. Created to change the way businesses pay and get paid, Viva Wallet offers businesses of all sizes acceptance - Card Present or Card not Present - of 24 payment methods, as well as business accounts with local IBAN and debit card issuing. 

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Keywords: Viva Wallet, contactless payments, POS, e-invoicing
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: Europe
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