SAN FRANCISCO, March 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Visa USA announced today that its Interlink PIN debit network continues to demonstrate strong growth, with transaction volume on track to outpace last year's climb. The Interlink network saw a 43 percent rise in dollar volume and a 39 percent increase in the number of POS transactions for the month of January 2004 compared to January 2003. In January 2004, Interlink processed more than 93 million transactions worth 3.3 billion in dollar volume, compared to 67 million transactions worth 2.3 billion in January 2003. The number of merchant locations accepting Interlink also grew by 19 percent over the same time period. The Interlink merchant base is now at 1.2 million locations and growing by more than 200,000 new merchant locations annually. The rise in Interlink's volume and transaction numbers are primarily due to an increase in merchant acceptance, issuing financial institutions, and a shifting of consumer preference away from cash and checks in favor of electronic payments. "Visa is focused on bolstering both merchant acceptance and financial institution issuance by demonstrating the benefits of Interlink as a national network," said Stacey Pinkerd, senior vice president, Visa USA. "Interlink is a key component of Visa's comprehensive debit solution that includes the Visa check card, and our Plus ATM network." Visa has also seen an increase in the number of financial institutions issuing Interlink, resulting in more than 70 million Interlink-branded debit cards in the marketplace. To date, there are more than 980 issuers of Interlink who have recognized the value it delivers to their customers. "We utilize Visa's Interlink network because it delivers the best value for our cardholders and shareholders," said Ken Kavanagh, debit card executive, Bank of America. "Additionally, Visa's support team ensured that we had a flawless transition with no cardholder or system disruptions as we transitioned to Interlink in the fall 2001, which was vital for the bank and our customers." "We're seeing great interest in Interlink from financial institutions who appreciate the opportunity to use a financial institution-governed network that understands the needs of its members and appreciates their input," said Pinkerd. "As an association, we are solely focused on meeting the needs of our Members, and that message is resonating in the marketplace." Interlink offers financial institutions, merchants and consumers a PIN debit solution, making it an attractive choice compared to other networks and payment methods. This includes a 'one-stop' POS solution that streamlines operations and customer service, and in turn lowers costs. Among the many benefits of Interlink: * Zero liability fraud protection and reliability for consumers, * Back-office operational efficiencies, national PIN POS coverage and a bank-governance structure for financial institutions, * Reliable and fast online debit processing that is backed by a Visa benefit of guaranteed payment for merchants. About Visa Visa is the world's leading payment brand and largest consumer payment system, enabling banks to provide their consumer and merchant customers with a wide variety of payment alternatives. Nearly 21,000 financial institutions worldwide rely on Visa's processing system, VisaNet, to facilitate $2.5 trillion in annual transaction volume with virtually 100-percent reliability. Consumers in more than 150 countries carry more than 1 billion Visa-branded cards, accepted at millions of locations worldwide. Within the United States, nearly 14,000 financial institutions issue 429 million Visa cards, accounting for more than $1.1 trillion in annual transaction volume. Visa offers a trusted, reliable and convenient way to access and mobilize financial resources -- anytime, anywhere, any way. For more information about Visa, please visit www.visa.com.
SOURCE Visa USA