By some standards, Visa would qualify as the world's single biggest business. During 2018, the organisation processed card or cash transactions worth a combined total of $11.2 trillion. Virtually every individual reading this paragraph either owns or has used a Visa card. There are currently more than 3.3 billion of them in circulation worldwide, and the company more or less invented our modern world of cash-free payments without boundaries. Literally thousands of other businesses (not least online giants like Amazon or eBay) would probably not exist had it not been for Visa's innovation. Despite high profile marketing battles against rivals Mastercard and American Express, Visa remains the world's leading provider of payment solutions, and by quite some margin. But it is also arguably the world's best-known unknown. Until its IPO in 2008 - it had previously been jointly owned by the various member banks for whom it transacted payments - few of its everyday customers would have known who owned it, and are still probably unaware of what exactly the company does. In fact, its VisaNet system provides the electronic links in a virtual triangle made up of around 15,900 banks and financial institutions, around 54m merchant retailers and more than 2bn cardholders worldwide, allowing for the easy and secure transfer of electronic funds from one to another. In 2018, Visa processed some 124 trillion transactions. Yet unlike American Express, for example, which lends funds to individual cardholders via charge or credit cards, Visa has no such direct financial relationship. The electronic payments has been exploding in recent years, but so too have the multiple threats to its integrity and security, and Visa has made a series of acquisitions to expand and enhance its offering. At the same time, it has had to combat a succession of lawsuits from retailers over allegedly unfair terms or charges; and is also one of the biggest spenders on global sports and entertainment sponsorships to promote its brand identity. Until recently, the Visa name was shared by two companies: Visa Inc globally except the European market where it was controlled by Visa Europe. The two businesses merged in 2016. Global revenues hit a new high of $20.6bn in ye Sept 2018, with net income of 10.3bn. Around 45% of revenues are still generated in the US. Visa (and also Mastercard) have little or no direct presence in a handful of major markets - notably China and Russia - where only local companies are allowed to process domestic payments. Al Kelly took over from Charles Scharf as CEO of Visa in 2018.
Capsule checked 25th June 2019
Which agencies handle advertising & marketing for Visa? Find out more from Adbrands Account Assignments
Who are the competitors of Visa? Visa's main global competitors are Mastercard and American Express. Regional competitors include Discover in the US, JCB in Japan, UnionPay in China and Mir in Russia. More recent competitors include online payment services like PayPal, Google Wallet and Apple Pay. See Financial & Insurance Sector index for other companies
Advertising & marketing expense for Visa? See ranking of Declared Advertising Costs
Key marketing decisionmakers for Visa? Find out more from Adbrands Account Assignments
Account assignments & selected contact information
Adbrands Account Assignments tracks account management for the world's leading brands and companies, including details of which advertising agency handles which accounts in which countries for major markets.
Historical profile information for Visa
Adbrands Social Media 12th Nov 2018: "Keep It Local This Christmas". The Christmas ad deluge continues. We'll skip over the same old same olds from Waitrose and Boots and Marks & Spencer and the rest. Instead, here's a very interesting angle on the holidays from Saatchi & Saatchi for Visa. God knows, Britain's High Streets could use a bit of love this season. New statistics show an unprecedented number of closures in the face of rising rents and rates and fierce competition from online sellers. So Visa has chosen to celebrate not the shoppers like you and me who feature in every other ad, but the independent retailers, who generally go un-noticed at this time of the year because they don't have the cash to spend on big-budget ads. It's an admirable concept: let's all make an effort not just to buy it all on Amazon or from the multiples but share some love and money with all our beleaguered local merchants. Before it's too late.
Adbrands Weekly Update 20th Oct 2016: Charles Scharf resigned as CEO of Visa to spend more time with his family, which is still located in New York. “I love working and running this great global company," he said in a statement, "and I am sad to have reached the conclusion that I should step down, but running a San Francisco based company just doesn’t work for me personally right now and wouldn’t be fair to Visa." He will be replaced from December by current Visa board director Alfred Kelly, a former president at American Express.
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Nov 2015: Payment processing giant Visa announced plans to reacquire its former subsidiary Visa Europe for up to €21.2bn in cash and stock. The two groups have discussed a re-merger several times in recent years. Visa Europe was spun off as a separate business in 2007 when the remainder of what was then a bank-owned cooperative filed plans for an IPO as a public company. This re-combination will provide a significant windfall for Europe's banks, who will share the proceeds of the sale between them. The merger is expected to complete in Spring 2016.
Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Aug 2015: Starcom MediaVest was awarded the global account (excluding Europe) for Visa in a shoot-out against incumbent OMD. It gives Starcom its 5th big media win this quarter, though those gains were offset by one even bigger loss (Coke North America). Visa Europe - currently a separate company - keeps its business with MEC.
Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Jul 2015: Visa made its most outspoken comments to-date on the bribery scandal engulfing global football association FIFA. Visa CEO Charlie Scharf said the continuing presence of Sepp Blatter as FIFA chairman pending an election proposed for some as yet unconfirmed date next year was "wholly inadequate" and demonstrated the organisation's "lack of awareness of the seriousness of the changes that are needed". He implied that Blatter should step down immediately in order to retain Visa as a cornerstone sponsor. Separately, on the back of strong results for its 3Q, Visa is in talks to reunite with Visa Europe, currently an entirely separate company still owned by its partner banks. It split off from what was then Visa International in 2007 ahead of the main group's IPO.
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