Payments provider Visa said it has significantly expanded its real-time payments network to include 5 billion card and bank accounts worldwide, up from about three billion currently.
The San Francisco-based company said in a statement that it expanded its Visa Direct network that allows account-to-account payments thanks partly to its 2019 acquisition of Earthport, a network that enables cross-border payments services to banks, money transfer companies and other businesses.
The Visa Direct service is designed to make it easier for banks, companies, and other entities to send payments to individuals, contractors or other small and mid-sized businesses. The latest upgrade for the service specifically increases payments capabilities between accounts, including those attached to debit cards. Individual debit card use increased significantly during the coronavirus pandemic.
“As digital commerce accelerates, Visa is innovating to give financial institutions, governments, individuals and businesses new ways to pay and get paid beyond the card,” Visa Direct Global Head Bill Sheley said.
Upstart payments fintech companies such as Stripe are increasingly poaching business from established financial institutions by making it faster and simpler to use their new technologies to transfer money between accounts, including across borders.
Some of the companies making use of the Visa Direct service include Standard Chartered Bank of Hong Kong, money transfer company MoneyGram and payments software firm KyckGlobal, Visa said in the statement.
The Visa Direct service is a real-time payment system that has the ability to transfer money between accounts in minutes, but the company acknowledges that some payments take longer, depending on the financial institutions involved, the account types and the regions of the world where the payment takes place.