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Visa’s corporate structure

Summary

Before it went public, Visa had a decentralized structure.

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Visa has a corporafte structure that is unique in the payment industry in that it is regionally decentralized.  In legal terms, Visa is made up of four nonstock, separately incorporated firms employing 6,000 workers across the globe.  The companies are worldwide parent Visa International Service Association (“VISA”), Visa U.S.A. Inc., Visa Europe Ltd. and Visa Canada Association.

[nyfinance]Visa U.S.A. Inc., Visa Europe Ltd. and Visa Canada Association are individually incorporated regions that are group members of Visa International Service Association.  Meanwhile, Visa Latin America, Visa Asia Pacific and Visa Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa are VISA divisions.

Through its decentralized setup, Visa says it is better able to respond to the needs of its members and alter the Visa International rules and products to suit the requirements of regional members.  As a result, regional banks have a major involvement in the control of their territories.

Meanwhile, the Visa International Board has two responsibilities: overseeing the association’s global interests, and setting strategic direction and management of the three unincorporated units and the central staff of Visa Worldwide services.

The Visa Association is not profit-driven, with the four companies comprising Visa issuing no cards and providing no loans.  The approximately 21,000 members worldwide fund day-to-day management, as well as making the required investments to maintain and build the Visa payment system.

However, VISA announced on Oct. 11, 2006, that it will end its membership structure in most areas of the globe, transforming itself into a publicly traded firm.  The announcement follows a similar move by MasterCard.

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