Living with credit, New products, Shopping

Visa’s new branding sound wants to win you over

Jay MacDonald

Soon, when you pay using your Visa card, instead of hearing that eerie and familiar beep coming from the payment terminal, you might, or might not, hear a heartwarming chime.

The new sound is Visa’s latest brainstorm in the card industry’s ongoing effort to spark an emotional attachment between humans and the little piece of plastic in your pocket or mobile wallet.

And I must say, the first time I heard it, I thought I was hearing a puppy bark. As a dog lover, it sort of warmed my heart, but your reaction might be different than mine.

What so intrigued the attendees at last month’s National Retail Federation “Big Show,” you ask? Three things: When the Visa transaction is approved in a point-of-sale (POS), the terminal emits the card network’s new signature branding chime along with a “haptic” vibration similar to your phone’s alerts. At the same time, an animated Visa logo will be displayed on the terminal and/or your mobile device’s screen.

Click the play button below to hear Visa’s signature sound:


Kind of adorbs, am I right? Well, Visa hopes that its terminal antics will win your heart while it fetches your purchase.

Visa’s new payment branding is premiering globally as part of the card network’s Winter Olympics campaign:

A welcoming chime, one year in the making

Why a new branding payment notification now? Visa is completely candid about its motivation: It’s a noisy, mobile world out there, and one increasingly difficult to maintain branding on a mere card.

During a year of research, the company discovered that most survey participants reacted positively to at least some interaction from the heretofore inanimate credit/debit cards in their purses and wallets.

Merchants, developers and terminal manufacturers are already stepping up for their chance to “pet” Visa’s sensory branding pilot. Equinox Payments, Ingenico Group, Poynt and Verifone have already signed on, representing 60 percent of the U.S. merchant POS terminal market.

“We believe merchants and consumers benefit from a more personalized and relevant experience at checkout and offer a powerful and open platform to allow innovators like Visa to create those experiences at the last inch of commerce,” said VeriFone executive vice president Vin D’Agostino.

Card issuers try again for a stronger connection

Visa’s move is far from the first time that a card brand has attempted to play matchmaker between man and plastic.

Remember back in 2010 when Mastercard and Visa both introduced interactive next-generation cards with small LCD screens and keyboard buttons that enabled the cardholder to generate single-use passcodes and account balances? What, you don’t have one? Yeah, me neither; the dawn of mobile banking pretty much sank that ship.

On a cozier note, it’s also worth remembering Capital One’s attempt in 2007 to form a bond between man and card by enabling us to, in essence, use our chit as a family photo album, inspiring the beloved Spaghetti Jimmy TV commercials. Sure enough, that one was also fleetingly charming, though far from ubiquitous.

The industry has even thrown its cards onto our keychains, wrists, gym bags, ring fingers and, most recently, even our sunglasses, by transforming the form factor to become, in essence, a traveling companion. Again, something of a passing fad rather than an enduring love affair.

Will this new Visa branding sound win our hearts? Only time will tell.

See related: Will mobile wallets make us poor?Mirror, mirror, will you order this dress in black, and charge it to my card?

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