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Visa: The World’s Largest Payments Processor


Jun. 25 2015, Updated 5:20 a.m. ET

The world’s largest payments network

Visa (V) is a leading global payments technology company operating in 200 countries. The company operates the world’s largest payment processing network, VisaNet, with a total transaction volume of $6.3 trillion in 2014. It has a network of 2.3 billion cards, 36 million merchants, and 14,300 financial institutions.

Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit, or set rates and fees for account holders on Visa products.

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Visa traces its roots back to 1958, when the Bank of America (BAC) launched BankAmericard, the first consumer credit card targeted at middle-class consumers and small- to medium-sized merchants.

In the 1970s, BankAmericard became an independent entity that later united under a common global brand, Visa. Visa continued to operate as a series of entities owned regionally by banks across the world until 2007, when the regional entities merged to form Visa. The company went public in 2008.


Visa’s payments network competitors include MasterCard (MA), American Express (AXP), and Discover Financial (DFS). Visa forms ~3.2% of the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK).

In the debit market, Visa competes with Maestro, owned by MasterCard, and various regional and country-specific debit network brands, including STAR, NYCE, and PULSE in the US.

Products and services

Visa provides a wide variety of payment solutions that support payment products issuers can offer to their account holders. The company provides debit, credit, and prepaid cards and payment products. The above graph shows its total issued cards over three years.

In this series, you’ll learn about Visa’s business and the factors that impact its operations. We’ll also discuss various operational metrics and the company’s stock performance compared to its competitors, so that you can make the most informed investment decisions.


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