San Francisco-based Visa Inc. operates the world's biggest electronic payments network. Its primary customers are financial institutions which use product platforms encompassing consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payments. VisaNet, its centralized, global processing platform, provides financial institutions and merchants with a range of product platforms, transaction processing and related value-added services. Its brands include Visa, Visa Electron, PLUS and Interlink, which it licenses to its customers for use in their payment programs.
Unlike other credit-card companies, the credit-card transaction processing giant doesn't issue lines of credit. Like rival MasterCard Inc., it isn't a lender, so it avoids the risk of consumers defaulting on their credit-card bills. They earn fees charged to banks to process credit- and debit-card payments. Even so, it has felt the impact of the slowdown in consumer and corporate spending. Visa also dominates the debit-card industry. One new push is the development of prepaid cards, funds transfers, Internet and mobile-payment applications.
The company, which had been closely-held and owned by thousands of banks for 30 years, went public in 2008 in the largest IPO in history. It had hired chief executive Joseph W. Saunders, a Washington Mutual Inc. credit-card executive, to lead the transition. The company recently began streamlining management to boost efficiency and speed development of new products, and president John Morris recently stepped down as part of the changes.