Visa to focus on tourism, tackling fraud

With at least half of all tourists arriving in Samoa used to making contactless card payments, Samoa needs to catch up.

Visa is rolling out plans to improve payment security, and the standard of card terminals across the South Pacific. Representative Andy McCowan said the new Security Roadmap will benefit the region.

For a start, Australia and New Zealand account for 52 per cent of tourists in the South Pacific, according to the South Pacific Tourism Organization’s review of visitor arrivals.

Visa’s own data suggests those countries are among the highest users of contactless payment methods like pay wave cards or watches.

Put simply, people don’t like carrying cash anymore, Mr McCowan said.

“Taking cash out can be an inconvenience. People want access to their money from their accounts at home. 

“You’ll find people will spend more if it’s easier to spend money.”

So with their attention turned towards increasing card terminals (Eftpos machines) with up-to-date chip technology to keep contactless payments safe, security is front of mind.

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Mr McCowan says encouragingly, there are hardly any old machines still in use, nearly putting an end to skimming and other transaction frauds. The up-take of new EMV chip machines is nearly 99 per cent.

“The good news is merchants and banks have invested in the new chip technology and that’s largely cleaned up the fraud,” he said.

“Fraud generally is trending down in the Pacific.”

Samoa, like other Pacific countries is still a cash carrying economy, gradually shifting towards mobile money but have very few Visa customers. Mr McCowan said he’s hoping Visa can help Samoa find cost effective solutions for merchants big and small to start accepting cards here.

“It will grow the tourism revenue that Samoa earns from a G.D.P perspective,” he said.

“We’ll be working closely with acquiring banks and potential providers who can develop new solutions for merchants outside of typical hotel tourism industry to find new ways to effectively provide lower cost, efficient payment solutions so tourists can use their cards outside of typical tourist entertainment areas.”

As well as making payment and therefore spending easier for tourists, Mr McCowan would like to see locals use cards more too.

“We think it’s critical to support domestic payments so locals can use their cards, which are increasingly deployed by banks,” he said.

“It’s safer, it’s more secure, you can’t lose it, it can be unhygienic, and cash is a big cost on the economy. 

“Talk to most central bankers, the cost of managing cash in the system can be quite expensive.”

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