Visa facilitates electronic payment systems throughout the world. The company operates the world’s largest retail electronic payments network through the transfer of value and information among financial institutions, merchants, consumers, businesses, and government entities.
Visa also provides electronic payment, risk management, and payment security solutions to online merchants; digital goods transactions services in online games, digital media, and social networks; and mobile financial services for mobile network operators and financial institutions in developing economies.
On September 18, 1958, Bank of America (BofA) officially launched its BankAmericard credit card program in Fresno, California. In the weeks leading up to the launch of BankAmericard, BofA had saturated Fresno mailboxes with an initial mass mailing (or “drop”, as they came to be called) of 65,000 unsolicited credit cards. BankAmericard was the brainchild of BofA’s in-house product development think tank, the Customer Services Research Group, and its leader, Joseph P. Williams. Williams convinced senior BofA executives in 1956 to let him pursue what became the world’s first successful mass mailing of unsolicited credit cards (actual working cards, not mere applications) to a large population.
Williams’ pioneering accomplishment was that he brought about the successful implementation of the all-purpose credit card (in the sense that his project was not canceled outright), not in coming up with the idea. By the mid-1950s, the typical middle-class American already maintained revolving credit accounts with several different merchants, which was clearly inefficient and inconvenient due to the need to carry so many cards and pay so many separate bills each month.
In 1968, a manager at the National Bank of Commerce (later Rainier Bancorp), Dee Hock, was asked to supervise that bank’s launch of its own licensed version of BankAmericard in the Pacific Northwest market. Although Bank of America had cultivated the public image that BankAmericard’s troubled startup issues were now safely in the past, Hock realized that the BankAmericard licensee program itself was in terrible disarray because it had developed and grown very rapidly in an ad hoc fashion. For example, “interchange” transaction issues between banks were becoming a very serious problem, which had not been seen before when Bank of America was the sole issuer of BankAmericards. Hock suggested to other licensees that they form a committee to investigate and analyze the various problems with the licensee program; they promptly made him the chair of that committee.
After lengthy negotiations, the committee led by Hock was able to persuade Bank of America that a bright future lay ahead for BankAmericard — outside Bank of America. In June 1970, Bank of America gave up control of the BankAmericard program. The various BankAmericard issuer banks took control of the program, creating National BankAmericard Inc. (NBI), an independent Delaware corporation which would be in charge of managing, promoting and developing the BankAmericard system within the United States. In other words, BankAmericard was transformed from a franchising system into a jointly controlled consortium or alliance, like its competitor Master Charge. Hock became NBI’s first president and CEO.
In 1976, the directors of IBANCO determined that bringing the various international networks together into a single network with a single name internationally would be in the best interests of the corporation; however, in many countries, there was still great reluctance to issue a card associated with Bank of America, even though the association was entirely nominal in nature. For this reason, in 1976, BankAmericard, Barclaycard, Carte Bleue, Chargex, Sumitomo Card, and all other licensees united under the new name, “Visa”, which retained the distinctive blue, white and gold flag. NBI became Visa USA and IBANCO became Visa International.
The term Visa was conceived by the company’s founder, Dee Hock. He believed that the word was instantly recognizable in many languages in many countries and that it also denoted universal acceptance. In October 2007, Bank of America announced it was resurrecting the BankAmericard brand name as the “BankAmericard Rewards Visa”.
Visa’s vision To be the best way to pay and be paid, for everyone, everywhere guides our purpose.
We are a global payments technology company working to enable consumers, businesses, banks and governments to use digital currency.
CEO – Alfred Kelly: Alfred F. Kelly, Jr., joined Visa in October, 2016 as Chief Executive Officer and was elected Chairman of the Board in April, 2019.
Mr. Kelly spent the majority of his career at American Express where he worked from 1987 to 2010. Over those 23 years, he held several senior positions, including serving as President from July 2007 to April 2010. Immediately prior to Visa, Mr. Kelly was President and Chief Executive Officer at Intersection, a technology and digital media company which is an Alphabet-backed private company based in New York City. Mr. Kelly was a Management Advisor to TowerBrook Capital Partners, L.P. in 2015, while simultaneously serving as Chair of Pope Francis’ visit to New York City.