Visa in History
When Bank of America launched the first consumer credit card (BankAmericard), the seeds were sown for Visa. In 1958 this was the first card accepted by large numbers of merchants and ignited a cashless revolution that would change consumer behaviour forever. In the late 60s, several other banks joined together to compete and launched the MasterCharge card.
As the banks battled for market domination, a new entity was formed (National Americard Inc – renamed Visa International in 1976) with Dee Hock at the helm. Among many other changes made under his leadership the original system of the merchant calling up to check the consumer’s credit balance was replaced. In 1973 the system became the first electronic authorisation system. Fast-forward to the twenty-first century and 2008 saw Visa become the largest initial public offering in history. Nevertheless, like all big corporates, Visa knows that to keep ahead the answer lies in one word: innovation.
Visa at Present
With the fintech sector booming and changing at an ever-increasing pace, Visa is refusing to be left behind. In 2017 Visa acquired a stake in Swedish payment provider Klarna. Last week it was announced that Visa is purchasing Silicon Valley star, Plaid for $5.3B. Plaid provide financial services companies with user-permissioned bank data. Plaid is used by 1 in 4 Americans and connects users with more than 11,000 fintechs.
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Al Kelly, the Chief Executive and Chairman of Visa described Plaid as “a terrific platform for extending Visa’s integrated payment solutions and value-added services”. In fact, Al Kelly stated the move is putting Visa at “the epicentre of the fintech world”
Visa in the Future
Not only is Visa acquiring leading lights, but the corporate is investing heavily in innovative R&D. Visa Innovation Centers are a series of pioneering development hubs in global tech cities like Berlin, Dubai, San Francisco and Tel Aviv.
In 2017 Visa opened its largest innovation center to date in London. This large space features live demonstrations of VR, IoT and biometrics. Connecting car and home environments with the future of payments, innovations include virtual reality shopping and fridges which pay for groceries. According to their website, Visa’s mission is that “to ensure that every Internet-connected device can become a viable and secure platform for commerce”.