VISA (credit card)

VISA (credit card)

Visa is a brand of credit card and debit card operated by the Visa International Service Association of San Francisco, California, USA, an economic joint venture of 21,000 financial institutions that issue and market Visa products. The Visa card was launched in 1976 and the card was derived from the earlier BankAmericard issued by Bank of America. Visa is a recursive acronym.


Internationally, BankAmericard was known by other names prior to the introduction of the Visa brand for the network. The blue-white-gold motif used by BankAmericard was also used for these cards. In the United Kingdom, it was known as the BarclayCard, issued by Barclays Bank. In Canada, an alliance of banks (including Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Royal Bank of Canada, and Bank of Nova Scotia) issued credit cards under the Chargex name. In France, it was known as Carte Bleue (Blue Card).

Corporate structure

Visa offers through its issuing members the following types of cards:

* pay now (debit) cards
* pay later (credit) cards and
* prepaid cards

Visa operates the PLUS ATM network and the Interlink EFTPOS network.

Visa’s corporate structure is regionally de-centralised, which is unique in the payment scheme industry.

Legally, no entity is called Visa. Rather, Visa comprises four non-stock, separately incorporated companies that employ 6000 people worldwide: Visa International Service Association, Visa U.S.A., Inc. , Visa Canada Association and Visa Europe Ltd. The separately incorporated regions are group members of Visa Association, whereas the unincorporated regions (Visa Latin America [LAC], Visa Asia Pacific and Visa Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa [CEMEA]) are divisions.

The de-centralised nature of Visa allows it to respond to member needs and adapt the Visa International rules and products to suit the individual needs of their regional members. Regional banks therefore have a strong stake in the governance of their region.

The Visa International Board has the dual responsibilities of:

1. Oversight of the worldwide interests of the Association
2. Strategic direction and supervision of the three unincorporated divisions and the central staff of Visa Worldwide services.

The Visa Association is not a profit- driven organisation and the four companies that make up Visa issue no cards and make no loans. Members (about 21,000 worldwide) fund day to day management and make the investments needed to maintain and develop the Visa payment system.


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