In 2016, Visa launched a variety of experimental initiatives, including a white-label mobile app for banks (with a tap-to-pay feature similar to Apple Pay) and real-time payments through Visa Direct. Stripe, PayPal, and ClearXchange have integrated with Visa’s platform in order to send and settle payments in real-time—Visa’s answer to the Venmo experience. Perhaps Visa’s most interesting experiment has been in baking technology into wearables. During the 2016 Olympics, Visa handed out swipeable rings for sponsored athletes. It also sold a wristband and Swatch watch with the same scan-to-pay ability as the ring. In August 2016, the credit card company unveiled the NFC Ring to the public. Similar in concept to the Olympics wearable, the NFC Ring lets consumers make purchases at near-field-communications terminals simply by raising a knuckle.
Visa also began experimenting with the blockchain in Europe. In collaboration with the BTL Group, Visa will be looking into how it can use this technology to make more efficient inter-bank transfers both domestically and internationally.