GCI Group

Visa International Hosts Banks at First Global SME Forum

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA (ots) -

    Worldwide Financial Institutions Explore Innovations in Products,     Risk Management, and Marketing to Boost Services for Small and     Medium Enterprises

    Visa International launched a drive to help the world's financial institutions boost their services for small and medium enterprises (SME) with the completion of its first Global SME Member Forum September 5 in New York. With a focus on the importance of SMEs worldwide, enhanced product solutions, and risk management approaches, the forum provided 30 banks -- from Australia to the Ukraine -- with information on how to design, launch, and manage small business programs. The forum took place as Visa was finalizing mid-year business results showing impressive growth in Visa transaction volume from SME clients.

    Attendees cited a growing global demand for SME services, which, balanced with risk management and technology advances, are creating worldwide momentum for expanded small business solutions. "This groundbreaking forum provided insights into the small business market, reviewed various risk mitigation techniques and made available a panel of experts that directly addressed the key challenges facing banks today," stated Lory Yeakle, senior vice president for commercial solutions at Visa International. "The small business segment provides much opportunity, yet is largely underserved in most countries. Education, expertise, and a wide array of payment solutions are the keys to expanding financial services options for these companies. We were delighted with the strong conference turnout, and we were even more delighted by the information exchange between Visa member banks from around the world."

    Visa estimates that small business payments represent a multitrillion-dollar segment and is enhancing its Visa Commercial Solutions to help issuers address the needs of their clients. Stuart McDonald, General Manager Customer Development & Strategy at Suncorp Australia, noted, "Card services are a flexible way to bring value to our small business customers. This forum provided a comprehensive update on the initiatives Visa is rolling out to its issuers, allowed us to discuss ideas and best practices with experts from around the world, and provided a great networking opportunity."

    Additionally, product evolution is important, as pointed out by many Visa member banks participating in the forum. They have increasingly expressed a need to offer small businesses a commercial payment solution with enhanced risk control features. "What we find valuable about Visa is the ease with which we can employ different Commercial solutions to service clients with diverse needs and profiles. The forum delivered valuable exposure to key principles and success factors and helped crystallize future segmentation and marketing ideas," said David Levey, Nedbank of South Africa. A challenge for most financial institutions is how to provide cash flow management tools to small businesses while managing credit losses. Enhancements to the Visa small business card platforms now affords Issuers the flexibility to issue an array of payment solutions including prepaid, immediate or deferred debit, charge, revolving credit and line of credit products.

    For example, Visa Business Electron, introduced in 2002, was quickly embraced in the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) Region as a more risk-appropriate alternative to traditional embossed Visa Business products. In fact, Visa Business Electron now represents approximately seven out of 10 new commercial products issued. "Issuers now have the right payment product to help manage higher risk for enterprises of all sizes, but especially small businesses. As an entry-level product, Visa Business Electron helps Issuers build relationships with small businesses and grow transaction volumes while at the same time, offering greater cross-selling opportunities. And, as these small businesses grow, Visa Business Electron will grow with them," said Thore Vestergaard, Head of Commercial Products for Visa CEMEA.

    The Visa Global SME Member Forum is one of a series of global meetings of Visa members that includes the Visa Multinational Member Forum and the Visa International Government Services Conference. Visa plans to continue offering programs that enable member interaction and networking, drive new product innovation, and address the commercial payment needs of our banks' commercial clients. Yeakle concluded, "Our solutions are driven by the needs of our members and their clients. These forums are as much an education for Visa International as they are for the participants. We look forward to utilizing these forums to obtain Member input that will help Visa to adapt and enhance its product offering to meet Member needs."

    Notes to Editors:

    About Visa International

    Visa is the world's leading payment brand, generating US$2.4 trillion in annual card sales volume. Visa has unsurpassed acceptance in more than 150 countries. The Visa organization plays a pivotal role in developing innovative payment products and technologies to benefit its 21'000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. Visa is a leader in Internet based payments and is pioneering the creation of u-commerce, or universal commerce -- the ability to conduct commerce anywhere, anytime, and any way. For more information, visit www.corporate.visa.com.

    For more information contact Paul Oliva, Visa International, at     poliva@visa.com or Thomas Rozycki, GCI Group, at     trozycki@gcigroup.com.

ots Originaltext: GCI Group
Internet: www.newsaktuell.ch

Paul Oliva
Visa International
Phone:  ++1/650-432-3742
E-Mail: poliva@visa.com
Thomas Rozycki
GCI Group
Phone:  ++1/212-537-8016
E-Mail: trozycki@gcigroup.com

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