Consumer online spending is up globally, with spend per active card-not-present cardholder up by over 25% in April compared to January. But the rise has come at a cost: the potential for increased fraud in a world full of hackers trying to steal personal data. A 2019 report from Juniper Research estimated that retailers could lose $130 billion in fraud from card-not-present e-commerce through 2023 (and that was before COVID). And that doesn’t account for the reputational hit a business experiences as a result of a customer data breach.

At Visa, expanding tokenization, or Visa Token Service (VTS), has been critical to reducing digital fraud globally – making digital commerce seamless and secure for more types of digital transactions. Visa transaction data shows that tokens can reduce fraud by 26 percent on average compared to traditional online card transactions where you enter your primary account number (PAN) online.

Visa Tokens have taken the payments industry by storm and grabbed the attention of industries ranging from automotive to entertainment. We recently reached a major milestone, issuing our billionth token. Visa Token service API’s drove about 6 billion tokenized transactions in 2019, growing at over 100%. [ As more and more institutions adopt the idea behind VTS I personally see it becoming the core technology behind almost all future purchases made online or even In – Person after cash is eventually not accepted universally anywhere … ]


VTS Tokens convert a cardholder’s 16-digit account number into a digital credential that can not be stolen or reused.  With tokenized transactions, the personal account number is locked away for safekeeping, replaced with a unique digital identifier (Token) that can be limited to a specific device merchant or transaction type. And since it can only be validated by Visa, a stolen token is about as useful as a stolen car without an engine. It’s going nowhere. [ Token is only good for that specific merchant assigned, and if stolen can’t be used anywhere else ]

Taking tokens from card to cloud – With more merchants and retailers adopting tokenization technology, Visa is scaling our credential-on-file tokenization efforts. 

In addition to enhancing security, tokenization also helps reduce friction in the payment process, because customers do not have to manually update stored card information if their Visa card is lost, stolen or expires. Instead, financial institutions can automatically update expired or compromised payment credentials. This can reduce missed payments for merchants, and help consumers avoid unwanted late payment fees or charges.

As businesses re-open, digital and contactless payments will be critical for our health and safety—and we will be unrelenting in our efforts to make the digital payment experience safer and more convenient for merchants and consumers everywhere.