The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to present entrepreneurs with some of the biggest challenges and brightest opportunities since the dawn of the digital era. This year, Visa’s third annual Everywhere Initiative—an innovation platform and competition designed to harness new thinking from within the startup community and encourage the development of the “next big thing” in payments—heads to Europe for the first time.
Since Visa’s Everywhere Initiative launched in 2015, the program has expanded beyond the United States to Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, China and now Europe. The expansion arrives just on the heels of Visa’s opening of its Innovation Center London, where European clients and partners can explore the Visa Developer Platform and collaborate on new ways to pay.
To introduce the larger Everywhere Initiative to European audiences, five contenders, Biowatch, Evopark, Kwik, Maintool and Wia participated in a live competition in Barcelona during Mobile World Congress in front of about 130 Visa clients and business partners. Their challenge? Address how startups can better integrate payment solutions with IoT devices to create a more seamless commerce experience.
“We're thrilled to launch the Visa Everywhere Initiative in Europe with such a great group of startups,” said Shiv Singh, senior vice president, innovation and strategic partnerships at Visa, during the Barcelona competition today. “The finalists we saw today raised the bar and could potentially be some of the most innovative technologies we've seen to date in the competition,” added Singh, who served as one of the judges in the Barcelona competition.
Switzerland-based startup Biowatch was selected as the winner on the strength of their payments pitch using its vein pattern technology, which allows NFC payment and authentication via a Bluetooth-enabled watch. Visa awarded Biowatch a €25,000 cash prize for winning the competition. Biowatch’s win also enabled them to enter in the larger European competition, where they will compete for €50,000 to run a pilot program with Visa or in partnership with Visa’s clients while also potentially getting mentorship and access to Visa APIs.