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Visa Card

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Anyone considering signing up for a credit or debit card will invariably consider a Visa card. Visa is one of the most well-known brands around the world, and for good reason. In the United States alone, more than 300 million cards are used to purchase over $800 billion in goods and services each year. Over 14,000 financial institutions around the country issue Visa cards and employ the Visa payment processing system.

Visa International is equally impressive, where 21,000 financial institutions issue Visa cards and participate in Visa's sophisticated system. The company operates the largest payment processing system in the world, ahead of MasterCard and American Express. Amazingly, there are over one billion Visa credit and other payment cards used around the world. That's roughly one in five or six people on this planet.

The Global Reach of Visa

Visa isn't a traditional company in the way it's owned. Both domestically and internationally, Visa is collectively owned by its member institutions. The two companies employ over 7,000 people. Their headquarters are in Foster City, California, just south of San Francisco. If you do sign up for a Visa card, you will be joining a truly vast and experienced network of financial organizations.

One reason that Visa is so ubiquitous is due to its history of innovation and the continuing evolution of services that Visa offers. There are five levels of Visa credit cards. They range from the Visa Classic and the student Visa cards to the rewards cards, culminating with the Visa Signature Card. Though Visa has been a true innovator, it cannot claim to have issued the first charge card. That distinction falls to Western Union, in 1914.

It's amazing to think how recently credit cards came into use. Visa's origins begin in 1958, when Bank of America began issuing a charge account with credit privileges. A decade later, a Bank of America executive named Dee Hock began making improvements to the system. He sought to expand it and also prevent fraud.

The History of the Visa Credit Card

His efforts led to the creation of two separate corporations made up of member banks, for US and international transactions. In 1977, Hock changed the name of the corporations to Visa USA and Visa International. From there, Visa continued to evolve. In 1983 Visa developed a global network of ATMs and expanded it in 1987.

Debit cards were first introduced in 1996. Then a year later, Visa introduced smart cards that featured encryption and online security technology. In 2000, it made business deals to allow transactions over wireless networks. Also in 2000, Visa began testing payment authorization systems using biometrics.

Examples of biometrics include making purchases through iris scans, fingerprints, and voice recognition. More recently, Visa issued pre-paid cards targeted for teenagers. These cards operate much like much like pre-paid phone cards. Pre-paid credit cards help teach teenagers about using credit while preventing them from running up exorbitant purchases. Plus, it also helps them build up their credit rating.


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