Market Watch

Visa Expands Online Gaming Presence


Display Driver IC Forecast


Credit card payment network Visa is to acquire payment-solution aggregator PlaySpan, for $190m. Further earnout bonuses were referenced as a potential part of the deal, but not confirmed or detailed. The purchase increases Visa's reach as a digital payment option, thanks to USA-based PlaySpan's business revolving around various facets of online gaming, including social network gaming.

Analysis
The purchase of PlaySpan complements Visa's prior purchase of CyberSource, another eCommerce payment management platform, increasing its capacity as a solution provider for digital merchants. PlaySpan has a specific focus, however, and is multi-tiered in its approach to this focus. As well as offering broad monetisation solutions for online gaming (currently 85 differing payment methods, across 180 countries), PlaySpan can deliver contextual commerce (i.e. in-game/in-app storefronts for individual titles), player-to-player (P2P) marketplaces and a pre-paid card in the form of its Ultimate Game Card. Moreover, PlaySpan is now one of the few official partners through which Facebook users can purchase the primary virtual currency for the social network, Facebook Credits. Such a prominent ongoing position in this growth area will have certainly sweetened PlaySpan as a prospective acquisition.

Visa has long been a fundamental component of the online payment sphere of gaming, but typically as an option within partner platforms, and so already has extensive presence in terms of microtransactions virtual goods. Via PlaySpan, it now owns a bigger chunk of the value chain, offering it a greater returns on activity in the fast-expanding sphere of online gaming. Payment solution platforms have seen a period of proliferation in the past few years, driven by various aspects of online gaming, as the west increasingly embraces browser-based play, and 'freemium' experiences driven by microtransactions. In the coming years, as online payment provision continues to mature, we expect to see further consolidation along the lines of the Visa/PlaySpan deal.

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