In April, 2016, Visa Inc. announced the opening of its Singapore innovation centre; the first in a network of similar facilities that the global finance heavyweight plans to open around the world, and an indictment of the unprecedented success that the Company is currently having in the region.
Building on the success of Visa’s flagship innovation centre in San Francisco which was opened in July, 2014, this latest edition to the Group portfolio has been unveiled with a view to enhancing access for both local and global clients to Visa APIs and software development kits through the Company’s Visa Developer Platform.
“We are pleased that Visa has chosen Singapore to set up its first innovation centre in Asia-Pacific,” said Dr. Beh Swan Gin, Chairman of the Singapore Economic Development Board at the time of the announcement. “The centre will focus on the development of leading-edge technology, new applications and business model innovation for clients and key partners in this region.
“Visa seeks to collaborate with the broader corporate ecosystem in Singapore, including start-ups. Visa’s decision is a strong affirmation of Singapore’s growing role as an innovation hotbed in this region.”
Four months on, Asia Outlook caught up with a Visa spokesperson to further analyse the business’ ongoing prominence in the area and the long-term goals being driven by the Singaporean innovation centre.
Asia Outlook (AsO): The new Innovation Centre in Singapore is inevitably a huge step in regards to the Company’s influence within the region, so can you talk me through how the facility came about, the reasoning behind it, the partners involved, and how it came to fruition?
Visa: Nearly two years after Visa opened its first innovation centre at One Market Center in San Francisco, the Company has launched a network of innovation centres that will emerge around the world over the next two years. First stop: Singapore. The pace of technological innovation across Asia-Pacific is unprecedented and creating enormous opportunity for any company that touches the growing payment ecosystem.
In fact, fintech investment in the Asia-Pacific region has seen a significant increase in recent years, growing from an estimated US$880 million in 2014 to nearly US$3.5 billion in the first nine months of 2015. The innovation centre is a platform for Visa and its clients/partners to engage, discuss trends and ideas, and address market opportunities. It provides the latter an opportunity to experience Visa’s core and emerging capabilities, in the context of emerging partner capabilities.
AsO: What are the logistics of the Innovation Centre in terms of size, location and employment; and what will be the core functions of it?
Visa: Comprising more than 7,000 square feet of office and innovation centre space, the innovation centre is located at Visa’s Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore at 71 Robinson Road. Accessible to both local and global clients, the innovation centre in Singapore will provide Visa partners guided access to Visa APIs and software developer kits (SDKs) available through the Visa Developer Platform to build market-relevant payment and commerce solutions.
A hands-on, real-time working space staffed by Visa technologists and business leaders, the Singapore innovation centre will operate as a commercial gateway, helping Visa partners from across the world extend their service offerings into Asia-Pacific.
The centre is a place to collaboratively build the future of payments – through rapid prototyping and co-creation – using Visa’s developer platform and open APIs.
AsO: In response to what major industry or consumer trends was the decision made to introduce this innovation centre?
Visa: We are a global payments technology Company working to enable consumers, businesses, banks and governments to use digital currency. As the payments industry shifts from plastic to digital and new entrants join traditional stakeholders in payments, Visa’s mission is to ensure that every internet-connected device, appliance or wearable, can become a secure place for commerce.
Mobile network operators, device manufacturers, digital wallet providers and social networks are joining traditional stakeholders in payments, bringing new ideas and helping to move commerce into digital domains. Singapore and the extended global network of innovation centres are an important part of that mission. The Singapore innovation centre, specifically, will operate as a gateway for Visa’s partners to deliver the next generation of payment solutions to the Asia market and beyond.
AsO: And how does this fit in within Visa’s general vision of industry development?
Visa: Merchants are increasingly serving connected consumers who want to shop anytime, anywhere, and with any device. With the Visa Developer Platform, merchants can create innovative retail experiences and offer a more secure and seamless shopping experience.
Visa’s partners, such as mobile device manufacturers, social networks, mobile network operators and platform providers can easily integrate secure and seamless consumer payments into their own environments, platforms and consumer applications. Developers at merchants, financial institutions, technology companies and even start-ups can now access Visa’s global network, security and payments expertise to create new and innovative commerce experiences for consumers.
AsO: What do you envisage the main benefits of the innovation centre to be moving forward; keeping in mind the Company’s key pillars of engagement, customer experience, and collaboration?
Visa: We would like to see greater collaboration and deeper partnerships; with clients, merchants, and partners. With this in practice, we would definitely see innovative products and/or prototypes. We have created a space for ideas to come to life.
Our innovation centre in Singapore is outfitted with collaboration rooms and payment experiences allowing for product experts, designers, developers and program managers to focus on real opportunities and progress ideas.
Visa is committed to collaboration and co-innovation, providing new and existing stakeholders in payments access to Visa’s technologies, APIs, and products to bring secure and convenient next generation payments to a broader number of devices and services.