BY JOSEPH A. MANN, JR.
"Remember those manual machines we used to use for processing credit cards?" asked Miami-based Eduardo Erana, president of Visa International for Latin America and the Caribbean, when asked about how things had changed for Visa in Latin America over the last few decades. "Today, we swipe our cards electronically and it takes about three seconds to obtain approval," he said.
Erana, who has more than 40 years of experience in Latin American banking and credit cards and 28 years with Visa, has seen the payments industry evolve from one where Visa and its client financial institutions had to send magnetic tapes with information on transactions back and forth across the region, to one where credit and debit transactions are transmitted at the speed of light. "The driving force behind this has clearly been people and the level of globalization that we've reached," he noted. "But what really has allowed these changes to occur is technology."
Today, the payments industry continues to evolve, driven by the Internet and mobile technology, as well as the shift from paper money to electronic payments for many of our banking needs. Over the years Visa has expanded its products to include credit, debit and prepaid cards as well as mobile transactions for individuals, companies and governments.
Businesses and governments use Visa prepaid or debit cards to pay bonuses and meal plans to employees and to make payments to people who lack bank accounts. Visa also offers express payments (no signature for amounts less the $25) at gas stations, fast food outlets and for taxis, and is rapidly expanding its reach in mobile payments.
This "technology explosion" has also created new expectations among consumers, the Visa executive said. "Consumers now expect to use their mobile devices to carry out financial transactions anytime and anywhere for almost everything," Erana said.
By constantly investing in new technology, an expanding network and innovative products, Visa aims to satisfy this burgeoning demand not only...