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Visa, Inc. is an American multinational financial services corporation, currently headquartered in San Mateo, California.

VisaNet, their global network, processed $4.4 trillion in transactions in 2009, 62 billion individual transactions in all. [1] Visa, Inc. had $2.966 billion in net income in 2010, and $33.408 billion in total assets. [2]

Visa started with Bank Of America's BankAmericard credit card program in Fresno, California in 1958. It was initially considered somewhat disastrous by the end of the following year, with 22% of accounts becoming delinquent. [3] After a massive effort to clean up their books and public image [4], in 1965 BofA was able to offer the card outside California.

Visa now facilitates electronic funds transfers internationally, principally via credit cards and debit cards. They do not issue these cards - they provide banks and other financial institutions payment products used to offer credit, debit, prepaid or cash-access programs to customers. [5] They hold a 38.3% market share of the credit card marketplace and 60.7% of the debit card marketplace in the U.S. Also see Visa Europe.

In 2003, Visa settled an antitrust lawsuit brought by a class of U.S. merchants, including Walmart. Visa and MasterCard settled plaintiffs' claims for $3.05 billion. [6]

In December, 2010, Visa reached another antitrust settlement, with the European Union. Also on December 7, 2010, Visa Europe suspended payments to WikiLeaks, saying it was awaiting an investigation into "the nature of its business and whether it contravenes Visa operating rules." [7] The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stated that Visa may be "violating WikiLeaks' right to freedom of expression" by withdrawing their services. [8]

Visa, Inc. spent $6,880,000 on lobbying in 2011, all of it funneled through their Visa USA subsidiary. The funds principally went into Banking, Finance, Homeland Security, Small Business, and Gaming, Gambling & Casinos issues. [9]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

Visa has been a corporate funder of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and was a "Chairman"-level sponsor of 2011 ALEC Annual Conference[10] ($50,000 in 2010),[11] and sponsor of the August 5th, 2011, Plenary Session speech of FreedomWorks' Dick Armey.[12] It has also been a member of ALEC's Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force.[13]

Paul Russinoff received ALEC's Private Sector Member of the Year award in 2012.[14]

Visa told Boston Common Asset Management, which had been engaging with the company over the past year on lobbying disclosure, that it had dropped its ALEC membership in December 2013.[15]

See Corporations that Have Cut Ties to ALEC and ALEC Corporations for more.

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

Funding controversial education organization Teach for America

Visa is among the numerous corporate and right-wing foundation donors to the non-profit education organization Teach for America. Teach for America has received criticism from the Center for Media and Democracy and others as it is "backed by a number of right-wing interests that have bankrolled the conservative push to privatize, voucherize, and generally dismantle free and universal public education in America". [16] As of August 2013, Visa is listed as one of Teach for America's largest corporate sponsors and gave between $1 million and $5 million between 2011 and 2012.[17]


Accessed May 2013: [18]  

Contact Information

Visa, Inc.
595 Market Street
San Francisco, CA
Phone: (415) 543-3602

Related Sourcewatch pages

External Articles


  1. Visa Operational Performance Data "Q1 FY2010 Quarterly Earnings, February 3, 2010".
  2. Securities & Exchange Commission "Form 10-K Transition Report organization website".
  3. Joseph Nocera, A Piece of the Action: How The Middle Class Joined the Money Class (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995), 30
  4. Joseph Nocera, 30-33
  5. Visa "[1]" organization website, accessed July 25, 2012
  6. Department of Justice "The Wal-Mart Litigation And The Settlement Service Fee" U.S. v Visa, Inc., The Wal-Mart Litigation And The Settlement Service Fee
  7. Associated Press "No proof WikiLeaks breaking law, inquiry finds" January 26, 2011
  8. Navi Pillay "UNTV" December 9, 2010
  9. "Lobbyists representing Visa Inc." Accessed July 25, 2012
  10. American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011 Conference Sponsors, conference brochure on file with CMD, August 4, 2011
  11. American Legislative Exchange Council, /AM/Template.cfm?Section=Sponsorship_Opportunities Sponsorship Opportunities at ALEC's Annual Meeting, organizational website, 2010, archived on the Wayback Machine, accessed January 24, 2012
  12. American Legislative Exchange Council, "Solutions for the States," 38th Annual Meeting agenda, on file with CMD, August 3-6, 2011
  13. American Legislative Exchange Council, [ American Legislative Exchange Council Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force 2011 Spring Task Force Summit April 29, 2011 Attendees], organizational document, June 20, 2011, p. 8, obtained and released by Common Cause April 2012
  14. American Legislative Exchange Council, 39th Annual Meeting Agenda, organizational document, July 25-28, 2012, on file with CMD
  15. Brendan Fischer, ALEC Is Not Where Visa Wants to Be, PRWatch, December 4, 2013.
  16. Harriet Rowan, Wisconsin Budget Includes $1 Million Taxpayer Giveaway for Well-Funded Teach for America, PR Watch, June 27, 2013.
  17. Teach for America, Donors, Teach for America Website, August 21, 2013.
  18. Visa Board, organizational web page, accessed May 24, 2013.
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