Visa has announced that US consumers will soon be able to receive and send funds to any eligible Visa credit, debit, or prepaid account, anywhere in the world. Visa will no longer just enable payments at the point of sale, but will also enable consumers to pay one another.

The new Visa personal payments service is made possible through technical enhancements to VisaNet, Visa's global payments processing network, and through the introduction of a new Visa transaction type that allows financial institutions to accept incoming funds. Bank customers of participating financial institutions will have the option to select a Visa account as the destination for funds when making a personal payment; all they have to do is enter the recipient's 16-digit Visa account, e-mail address, or mobile phone number.

Visa has also announced strategic product agreements with CashEdge and Fiserv, two of the leading providers of electronic person-to-person payment, account transfer, and bill payment services to US financial institutions. CashEdge and Fiserv will have access to VisaNet, enabling them to integrate the Visa personal payment service into their respective person-to-person platforms: Popmoney and ZashPay. The first US financial institutions are expected to make Visa personal payments available to their customers through CashEdge and Fiserv by the second half of 2011.

Visa personal payments are already offered by financial institutions around the world with more than 70 programs enabling consumers to send funds to Visa accounts. Now the service is finally coming to the US.

"For fifty years, Visa has worked to simplify payments at the merchant point of sale; we are now evolving our network capability to make it easier for our account holders to pay one another," Jim McCarthy, global head of products at Visa, said in a statement. "Through our agreements with Fiserv and CashEdge, we can accelerate the delivery of new and innovative Visa payments services, and better enable financial institutions to extend these services to customers."