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Visa's IPO Will Transform Payment Industry

Visa's plans for a record-setting initial public offering of stock is likely to speed up its efforts to make cash and checks obsolete. The offering might be valued at almost $19 billion. It is also likely to produce a windfall for banks, many of which are struggling to overcome the global credit crunch. Visa, which essentially operates as a cooperative, is owned by 13,000 financial institutions.

Consumers are clearly moving away from cash and checks in favor of electronic payments. That is particularly the case for debit cards, now growing at a double-digit annual percentage rate. More than half of Visa's transactions now come from debit cards, while credit cards have experienced a significant slowdown in growth.

Visa and chief rival MasterCard are looking to pump up profits by creating alternatives to the cards. Both companies are testing programs that transform cell phones into payment devices that can also receive targeted offers and discounts.

Read the whole story at The Wall Street Journal »

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