Visa Europe said it would introduce to member banks by mid-April a "tokenisation" service which substitutes random numbers for a user's credit card details when a merchant transmits transaction data, reducing the risk of online theft.
Visa Europe has announced a new, more secure way for consumers to pay retailers via smartphones, a move that could set the stage for Apple's Apple Pay and rival mobile payment services to be introduced into Europe in the coming months.
Similar security from Visa Inc, the former parent of Visa Europe, and rival card issuers MasterCard and American Express has been key to the success of Apple Pay since it was introduced in the United States last year, according to industry experts.
Apple Pay allows iPhone users to store their credit card details on their phones, then pay at the tap of a button. In its first three months, more than $2 out of every $3 which U.S. consumers spent using speedy new "contactless" systems at the three major credit card networks was done via Apple Pay, the company said last month.
Visa Europe's move is one of several new services the London-based credit card giant is unveiling as it battles to retain its role as a middleman connecting banks and consumers in a fast-moving payments landscape being shaken up by major technology firms including Apple, Google and eBay's PayPal, as well as scores of ambitious start-ups.
These include a way for card customers to send money overseas to other Visa users via their social media profiles on sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Steve Perry, Visa Europe's chief digital officer, said in an interview his association's plan for secure credit card data transmission parallels what Visa Inc offers in the United States. But he declined to comment on whether Apple Pay had agreed to use his organization's version in European markets.
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