Visa Inc. is a US-based multinational financial services company formed from a consortium of US banks. It is the 2nd largest payment processor globally and the leading payment processor outside China. Its market share in 2021 was roughly 50% of global transaction volume x-China. Transactions are processed in 1 of 4 hardened data centers in key regions worldwide. The data centers are hardened against internal and external attacks, both physical and digital, and can operate independently of each, providing ample redundancy for the system. As of 2022, the company can process more than 30,000 transactions per second, making it the most viable solution for most use-case scenarios.
Visa Inc. was founded in 1958 by Bank of America as the BankAmericard Credit Card network. Not only is the card itself of historical importance, but how it was launched is also. Bank of America launched the program with the first mass mailing of unsolicited credit cards, changing the nature of the entire consumer credit market. At the time, consumers often had several credit accounts with local merchants, which was cumbersome for financial record-keeping; by introducing a consumer-friendly credit card, Bank of America unified merchant credit accounts into one billing statement.
The BankAmericard network was so popular, and to compete again with the then-number 1 MasterCard, Bank of America opened use to other financial institutions. By 1970 Bank of America had relinquished direct control of the institution allowing a consortium of financial institutions to operate the company. It was rebranded as Visa in 1976 and grew to become the dominant payment processing network in the decades since.
Visa Inc is not a card issuer; it does not extend credit to consumers and does not set rates or fees for consumers. It is in business to provide electronic funds transfers services or EFT to financial institutions, banks, government and businesses. Entities needing financial payment processing infrastructure can enroll in VisaNet and issue Visa-branded cards and services to their clients and customers.
Visa operated as four separate entities serving different regions of the globe until restructuring in 2006. The restructuring resulted in the merger of 3 of the four assets into Visa Inc, leaving Visa Europe as a stand-alone entity. The new Visa Inc held its IPO in 2007, selling half of its shares, raising nearly $18 billion or almost double the targeted amount. Visa Europe was later acquired by Visa Inc, forming the unified company traded today.
Visa employs more than 26,500 individuals globally and brought in roughly $15 billion in revenue for fiscal 2021. The company has more than 3.9 billion active cards out globally; it has processed more than 255 billion transactions and is used by more than 80 million merchant locations. As a forward-thinking company, Visa is also engaged to some degree with the cryptocurrency markets and has partnerships with Coinbase and Crypto.com, among others.