Visa Poised to Bring QR Code Payments to Taiwan

July 6, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

Quick response (QR) codes are one option to deliver mobile payments access, and one that’s catching on particularly well in lesser-developed nations as a way to offer access to this service without having to build out a monster infrastructure project to support something more advanced. Recently, Visa made a push on the QR code front in Taiwan.

Starting now, with an eye toward completion by the end of 2018, the new system is slated to open up new mobile payments opportunities in the region, though there were already several in the country.

Apple Pay has been in Taiwan since March, reports note, and the other two of the current big three—Samsung Pay and Android Pay—went live back in May and June. Yet Visa smells an opportunity afoot here despite that seeming saturation; there are around 35 million credit cards issued by 20 different banks in the country, but many of these card holders haven’t actually signed up for a service at all yet.

Visa, for its part, notes that the big three mobile payments systems are hampered by endpoint logistics; there simply aren’t enough smartphone brands that run these platforms on hand. Since QR code mobile payments doesn’t require near that level of infrastructure—many feature phones can handle QR code operations—Visa is seemingly counting on this lower-tech push to drive its operations forward.

There’s something to be said for mobile payments systems that use lower-technology options. While it’s indispensable in lower-tech countries in general, Taiwan doesn’t really qualify. However, for countries where the endpoints—the phones that the users generally carry—isn’t so high-tech, QR codes can be a great way to open up mobile payments.

It’s also helpful in regions where wireless connectivity isn’t the greatest. Not everyone has 4G, after all—even in the United States many regions are lucky to muster a 3G connection—and a system that works well with slower connections can be a great way to democratize the field.

Visa’s plan should pay some worthwhile dividends, but its run time is so long here that it might have telegraphed the punch. With around 18 months until completion, potentially, that may be time enough for someone else to eat Visa’s lunch.