Payments Infrastructure


Power Score: 81.44 Momentum Score: 22.35 (7) HQ: Foster City, CA CEO: Al Kelly


Valuation: $455 billion (+20% YoY)

Amt. Raised: n/a


Lobbying Spend: $3,060,000

Industry Orgs: BPI; ETA


Headcount: 18,917 (+1% YoY)

Engineering Headcount: 3,979 (-1% YoY)

Big Tech Experience: 3.0%

Open Roles: 1,803


R&D Spending: n/a

Patents Applied For: 408

Patents Owned: 1,744

Acquisitions: Currencycloud (July 2021); Tink (June 2021); YellowPepper (November 2020)


Exec Team Exits: No

Diversity Data?: Yes

ESG/CSR Data?: Yes

On Power

Visa is the payments industry's old money. For generations, the company has been at the forefront of global finance, owning the prime real-estate of the consumer's wallet (60% of the credit- and debit-card market) while forging lucrative partnerships with Wall Street's elite. But in the last five years, Visa's tech focus has propelled the company to new heights in the broader financial sector, especially as its strategy diverged from that of competitor Mastercard via an emphasis on building the Visa Direct payment rails.

Following Visa's acquisition of the cross-border payment provider Earthport in 2019, Visa Direct has grown significantly, with the service now able to facilitate payments between 5 billion cards and accounts in more than 200 countries via what it calls its multi-rail strategy. At its core, Visa operates on a different layer of the payment stack to some of the other companies in this Power Index, even underpinning some of the advancements of the other listed companies. Still, the sheer size of Visa's network, while beneficial for the company's quest to make payments faster, means that the company's valuation and headcount haven't grown at the pace of some of the payments industry's newer entrants.

On Disruption

After its cancelled blockbuster Plaid merger, Visa moved to acquire Tink in June 2021, another open-banking platform, as well as Currencycloud, another cross-border payments solution. The company has also laid out its plans to implement what it calls a Universal Payment Channel, a way to link its existing payment networks to those running on blockchain networks. It comes following news that its crypto-linked card usage topped $1 billion in 2021.

Tea Leaves

Visa and Mastercard still play the "anything you can do, I can do better" game, and open banking is the latest area where the two companies are fighting it out. Visa made the first move in January 2020 with Plaid, but Mastercard closed the first big relevant acquisition with Finicity in November of that year. Then, a few months after Visa announced it would be acquiring Tink, Mastercard bought Aiia, another open-banking company. With both companies looking to expand their European presence even further, it looks like it's Visa's turn to make the next move.

They Said It

"Crypto is a developing part of payments in the world. It's in the very nascent state right now. And we're very interested in cryptocurrencies. We're not as interested in crypto that is more of a commodity-based play. So we're interested in crypto that ultimately becomes fiat-based so there's a clear understanding of the value when there's an exchange of crypto for the purchase of a good or a service." —CEO Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. in a November 2020 interview

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Payments Infrastructure