Visa CEO Says Consumers Still Swiping Despite Recession Fears

(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Despite worries about a recession, the CEO of Visa Inc. says that consumers aren’t slowing down their card swiping—or, increasingly, their tapping. He spoke with Carol Massar and Jason Kelly.

What are people buying—where is their money going?

A couple of things are driving the increases in transactions. One is e-commerce. And we’re seeing more smaller-ticket items. A lot of that I think is driven by mass transit payments. We started in New York [with tap-to-pay] at stations from Grand Central to Brooklyn. By October 2020 the transit authority hopes to be in all 424 subway stops.

Why is the U.S. lagging on things like tap-to-pay?

The U.S. was much slower to adopt a chip in the card. You have countries like Poland and Hungary that are over 90% tap-to-pay in the face-to-face world. In the U.S., the vast majority of the businesses are set to be able to facilitate tap-to-pay. The issue is replacing the hundreds and hundreds of millions of cards. By the end of this year we’ll have over 100 million cards in the United States that will be tap-to-pay enabled.

Will we all eventually be like China, where all you need to carry to buy things is your phone?

I don’t think fully. Payments is an extraordinarily local business. Mexico, Germany, Japan—they’re huge cash societies to this day. Adoption will pick up, but for a long time there’s still going to be a place for all kinds of different form factors.

What’s the biggest existential threat to Visa or the industry?

I think cybersecurity. The bad guys have access to the same technology the good guys do. Over the next decade, you’re going to have 5G really take off, the internet of things, and artificial intelligence getting to the next level. Quantum computing perhaps. All of that creates enormous opportunity but also risks to tech-based infrastructure companies like ours.
 
Interviews are edited for clarity and length. Listen to Bloomberg Businessweek With Carol Massar and Jason Kelly, weekdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET on Bloomberg Radio.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Pat Regnier at pregnier3@bloomberg.net

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