Visa USA's Interlink PIN Debit Network Demonstrates Strong Growth Over the Past Year

Interlink Climb a Result of Increases in Acceptance,

Issuance and Consumer Preference for Electronic Payments

Mar 03, 2004, 00:00 ET from Visa USA

    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
     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