Visa Is Disrupting The World of Payments With AI, Here’s How


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the world, one industry at a time. From automating processes to streamlining tasks, supporting leaders to make more informed decisions, to reshaping the field of education with adaptive learning models, and of course, enhancing the world of finance, with fraud detection, risk assessment and augmented customer experiences.

As one of the world’s most trusted leaders in digital payment technologies, Visa has been enhancing its offerings with AI, to connect and enable its customers, businesses and economies to thrive in a more secure way.

We sat with Mario Makary (MM), Vice President and Levant Cluster Manager at Visa, to understand how AI is transforming the world of payments, and to uncover the latest solutions and offerings for both customers and merchants.

BDD: As a global leader in digital payments, how is AI transforming your industry?

MM: For many years, AI has been the foundational tool in the field of security and fraud protection. AI-powered systems regularly identify, investigate, disrupt, and prevent attacks that target the global payment ecosystem. Services including Smarter Posting and Smarter Stand-In Processing (STP) are transforming the way payments are made every day, reducing the consumer impact of service disruptions, and bridging the time-gap between payment authorization and transaction clearing.

Payment systems are seeing significant advantages that will add value to the consumer’s payment journey, or the business using the payment system to incorporate more technologies to serve their customers. AI incorporated in payment systems impacts operational efficiency, security, personalization, behavior, and speed.

BDD: What are the tangible benefits that you see, as a result of AI?

MM: A core benefit of AI is its predictive capability that allows it to assess, analyze and model large chunks of behavioral data, and consequently aid in the development of better products and services. Behavioral data yields insights on spending patterns and triggers, which helps in customization and personalization.

Security is paramount in a world of eCommerce and fast transactions. Visa’s average time between identifying and shutting down fraudulent transactions is measured in seconds. As fraudulent actors use Generative AI too and other emerging technologies to create convincing scams, payment systems are creating their critical defense systems to make sure that their technology to safeguard customer transactions is relevant and sophisticated to counter these attacks.

BDD: So what new services or solutions, powered by AI, is Visa offering clients? What are the solutions that make smarter payments for merchants and customers?

MM: Cyber threats continue to evolve, with notable increases in purchase return authorization attacks, ransomware attacks, and enumeration attacks in the CEMEA region. Visa’s Global Fraud team employs AI-driven models and invests billions to counter these threats swiftly. Moreover, the rise of deep fakes and AI proliferation poses new challenges, with voice cloning and polymorph malware becoming prevalent.

Visa prioritizes AI investments to combat fraud, ingesting vast datasets to identify crucial identifiers efficiently. Worldwide, Visa has invested over US$10 billion over the past five years in technology, including reducing fraud and enhancing network security. This has included US$500 million on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data infrastructure, powering 100 different capabilities that use AI to protect clients and customers.

Visa recently announced continued expansion of its global value-added services business with the addition of three new AI-powered risk and fraud prevention solutions. The new products, part of the end-to-end Visa Protect suite, are designed to reduce fraud across immediate account-to-account and card not present (CNP) payments, as well as transactions both on and off Visa’s network. It is also focused on three Visa Protect solutions that are intended to address client needs and utilize the company’s deep expertise in AI.

In 2023, Visa helped block $40 billion in fraudulent activity, nearly double from the year prior.

By expanding Visa Advanced Authorization (VAA) and Visa Risk Manager (VRM) for non-Visa card payments, Visa’s extensive, AI-powered fraud risk management solutions are now network scheme agnostic, allowing issuers to simplify their fraud operations into a single fraud detection solution that help strengthen fraud protections while reducing costs.

BDD: Can you tell us more about your fraud prevention solution?

MM: While tokenization is one of the most secure ways to transact, fraudsters use social engineering and other scams to illegitimately provision tokens and commit fraudulent transactions. Visa Provisioning Intelligence (VPI), an AI-based product, is designed to address this challenge and combat token fraud at its source by using machine learning to rate the likelihood of fraud for token provisioning requests. VPI, accessible through Visa Risk Manager, helps financial institutions prevent fraud in a targeted way and enable more seamless and secure transactions across device, eCommerce and card-on-file token.

Visa’s first fraud prevention solution is built specifically for immediate payments, including P2P digital wallets, account to account transactions, and central banks’ instant payment systems. Powered by deep learning AI detection models, this new service provides a risk score in real time that helps financial institutions prevent fraud by automatically blocking bad transactions before they happen.

BDD: Can you detail your corporate responsibility initiatives related to consumer safety, in the MENA region?

MM: To improve consumer safety, Visa launched the Stay Secure Study, a part of the annual Stay Secure Campaign, to raise awareness, strengthen education, and build confidence to combat social engineering threats. The campaign focuses on 3 broad themes: disconnect between awareness and action, decoding the language of fraud, and education and spotting signs.

Visa deploys top-tier tools, expertise, and processes to identify and mitigate fraud, investing overUS$10 billion in technology over the past five years. The Global Fraud team integrates security at the network level, focusing on addressing human vulnerabilities through technology.

Consumer-targeted scams are increasing in complexity and volume, resulting in an estimated US$1 trillion in financial losses in 2023. These include imposter scams, online shopping scams, social media/messaging platform scams, and prize/sweepstakes/lottery scams. A significant portion of consumers in CEMEA reported falling victim to online scams. In CEMEA, 52% of surveyed consumers said they have been a victim of an online scam, 15% of them multiple times.

With access to petabytes of data, Visa analyzes transaction patterns in real-time to identify potential compromises. Experienced risk analysts provide comprehensive 24/7 monitoring, offering real-time threat containment, rapid remediation, and comprehensive threat detection across cyber and payment fraud.

It is essential to continue raising awareness and educating consumers through targeted, collaborative campaigns with regulators such as the Central Bank of Iraq and Tabadul in Iraq to inform the public on the importance of digital payments.

BDD: You also have notable programs that empower women, such as ‘She’s Next’. Can you tell us more?

MM: Since 2020, Visa has invested more than US$3M in 250+ grants for women-owned businesses globally (30+ markets to-date) through its She’s Next campaign, which provides training, mentoring, and funding opportunities to pave the way forward and grow as business leaders. In 2023, eleven winners were chosen from three markets across the NALP region to receive US$10,000 each in funding, along with a tailored training programs and access to the She’s Next Club.

BDD: Visa is also very invested in fintech programs in the MENA region. Are there any you can share with us?

MM: We have campaigns such as the Visa Everywhere Initiative, a global open innovation program and competition that sees fintech startups pitch their solutions to solve tomorrow’s payment and commerce challenges. Introduced for the first time in 2024 in the Levant region (Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine), winners, win equity-free funding, in addition to access and exposure to Visa’s vast networks of partners in the banking, merchant, venture capital, and government sectors. The winners also benefit from receiving recognition from one of the world’s most trusted and valuable brands. Applications are open until 29 April, and we invite all fintech companies across Levant to apply

BDD: As a FIFA World Cup Partner, how are you encouraging the youth to take up sports?

MM: Most recently, Visa partnered with Lebanese Basketball Federation to support the Lebanon Interschool Girls Basketball Tournament as part of their commitment to empower global youth through sport. As part of this partnership, Visa aimed to offer school and high-school girl students the opportunity to learn and develop the fundamental skills of basketball while instilling life-lessons and values such as character, teamwork, perseverance, discipline, respect, ethics, and sportsmanship.

Visa’s support of the Lebanon Interschool Girls Basketball Tournament complements its global investment in sports, including its sponsorship of the Lebanon Men’s National Basketball Team and partnership with UEFA Women’s Football, the U.S. Soccer Federation, the Olympics and Visa’s long-standing partnership with FIFA. Visa also announced early 2024 an unprecedented multi-year agreement where Visa will become the first global partner of both Red Bull F1 teams, bringing a new look to the F1 grid. Which includes the Visa Cash App RB Formula One Team and a newly designed Visa and Cash App inspired car, the championing of the Visa Cash App RB team in the F1 Academy all- women driving series, furthering our commitment to women’s equality in sport.

Visa is always at the forefront of iconic events spanning fashion, sports, and entertainment that bring people together, and inspire a more inclusive and equitable world.

To learn more about the various initiatives at Visa, and funds that you can apply to, visit:

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