Chairman and CEO


Dear Stockholders, As I look back on the past fiscal year, and ahead to what comes next, I see us in the midst of an exciting transformation, on the cusp of a new, digital future.

There is no denying the challenges we have faced over the past year and a half — as individuals and communities, as a company and workplace, and as a global society at large. At Visa, with the majority of our team working from home, we proved to be resilient. Our colleagues continued to serve our partners with excellence; we remained focused on innovation; and we continued to do whatever it takes to keep the engine of global commerce running. Hopefully, with the marvelous work of researchers and pharmaceutical companies, we will start to see the pandemic migrate to an endemic that can be more easily managed. That said, the pandemic did accelerate some positive changes. Many of the old ways of doing things will not be the ways of the future; changes in consumer preferences and behavior have accelerated and the future of money is digital and borderless.

With Visa’s global scale, network, incredible brand, broad-based array of value added services, compelling technology, and relentless focus on security, I am confident about the future of Visa. I will use the bulk of this letter to talk about our future, but let me provide a brief summary of the past year.

During fiscal year 2021, we grew revenue, net income and earnings per share at double-digit rates. We continue to have momentum across our three growth levers — consumer payments, new flows, and value added services — as we seek to diversify our revenue. By using our network of networks, we are working to facilitate money movement seamlessly and securely for everyone. We deepened current relationships and laid the foundation for future growth by renewing existing partnerships and signing key deals with new clients and fintechs. We are a network working for everyone — big and small, developed countries and emerging markets, traditional financial institutions and fintechs. We don’t pick winners and losers. We enable disruptors and much of the innovation in the payments and money movement infrastructure, helping to accelerate Visa’s growth.

In the past fiscal year, we set records for payments volume and transactions despite the pandemic. The increasing digitization of payments, new use cases in money movement and the large number of consumers embracing ecommerce all contributed to our growth. And we have achieved this growth despite cross-border travel continuing to lag well behind 2019 pre-COVID levels. That said, we are seeing increasing momentum for cross-border travel as border restrictions are being eased and vaccination rates are increasing. Even with many borders still closed, cross-border travel-related spending, excluding intra-Europe, has climbed from 40 percent of 2019 rates in April 2021 to 50 percent in June 2021 and 61 percent in September 2021.

Fiscal year 2021 was also transitional — a shift away from the sheer uncertainty of the early pandemic toward a renewed focus on accelerating growth in a new and increasingly digital future. In many ways, we are coming out of the pandemic stronger than we were before it started. And through it all, we have remained steadfast in our belief that economies that include everyone everywhere, uplift everyone everywhere.

Consumer payments | Increasingly digital and forever changed

One trend the pandemic has accelerated is the shift to digital payments. Social distancing and the forced closure of many in-person businesses and gathering places made the limitations of cash blatantly obvious, moving much of commerce online. When consumers followed — some for the first time — they showed a strong and sticky preference for digital payments

This shift toward digital payments could be seen across our business — from debit payments volume, which grew 23 percent, to the increase in the number of monthly global active ecommerce credentials and spend per active credential. In the United States, for instance, monthly active ecommerce credentials and active spend per ecommerce credential both grew by nearly 20 percent on average compared to 2019.

In the U.S., the number of monthly active ecommerce credentials grew by nearly 20% on average in 2021 compared to 2019

A delivery man drops off a package to a an online shopper

When consumers shopped in person, the security and ease of tap to pay prevailed. Tap to pay now represents 70 percent of all face-to-face transactions globally, excluding the U.S., and we have more than 70 countries and territories with over 50 percent contactless penetration. In the U.S., there are now 400 million tap to pay cards, quadruple what we had two years ago, and penetration is now over 15 percent — more than double that of just a year ago — with penetration above 25 percent in key cities like New York and San Francisco.

We intend to capture the continued growth in consumer digital payments by getting Visa credentials into as many wallets as possible. Toward that end, we have grown credentials from both traditional and emerging financial players to 3.7 billion, up 7 percent year-over-year. Nearly 30 percent more fintechs issued Visa credentials in fiscal year 2021 and they have more than doubled their payments volume compared to fiscal year 2020. We also have 2.6 billion digital tokens, unique identifiers that protect payment credentials when used for in-store mobile payments or online shopping, worldwide — double the number of tokens in existence only 12 months ago.

We also expanded how and where Visa payments are accepted, with the number of merchant locations on our network increasing by 14 percent, to more than 80 million merchant locations in fiscal year 2021. And when you include all the small businesses that used solutions provided by companies like Stripe and Square, the number of merchant locations accepting Visa is north of 100 million.

Key to driving and unlocking an increasingly digital future is trust — in our brand, our people, in our network, and in our products and services. To ensure consumers remain confident in the safety of spending digitally, we’ve invested more than $9 billion in technology over the past five years. We have more than 800 cybersecurity employees working to stay ahead of an upsurge in malware and brute-force attacks. We operate three Cyber Fusion Centers that handle 24/7 security monitoring, incident response and investigations, and threat intelligence capabilities. We have built a deep bench of PhD researchers, data scientists and engineers to accelerate and improve our automated systems, including our flagship Artificial Intelligence-based platform, Visa Advanced Authorization, which prevented roughly $26 billion in fraud in fiscal year 2021 and screened 30 percent more transactions than in fiscal year 2020.

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New flows | Facilitating money movement globally

More and more, consumers are paying for goods and services, and paying each other (P2P) digitally, but a strong and growing preference for digital payments isn’t just a trend among consumers. Businesses are reimbursing customers (B2C) and paying other businesses (B2B) digitally, marketplaces are paying their sellers (B2b) without cash, and governments are embracing digital disbursements (G2C). All of this activity lends credence to our thesis that the future of money is digital, and Visa is committed to powering this digital transformation.

While we always have our eyes on consumer payments, there is an even greater opportunity in new types of money movement. Payments between peers, businesses, and governments represent a $185 trillion opportunity.

As much as $65 trillion of that opportunity is in lower value, higher velocity flows — the kind of flows that power P2P payments, remittances, insurance, gig worker payouts and other payments — all possible with Visa Direct.

In the past, the Visa network was mainly a one-way street. Visa Direct, our home-grown payment solution for push payments, turned that street into a highway system. It allows merchants to access cash flow daily, consumers to receive payouts directly to their bank accounts, families to receive money from loved ones across borders, and governments and businesses to quickly and securely pay each other.

In fiscal year 2021, Visa Direct alone facilitated multiple use cases across 500 partners on 16 card networks, 66 automated clearing house (ACH) schemes, seven real time payments networks and five gateways. This is what we refer to as our network of networks capabilities. It enables Visa to serve as a single connection point for movement of money around the world, utilizing the most effective routing to over five billion endpoints. This includes Visa-owned networks, such as VisaNet, as well as those outside our own four walls, such as real time payment networks and, in the future, emerging networks like central bank digital currency (CBDC) initiatives and public blockchains.

This transition is truly remarkable. In the U.S. alone, nearly 120 million cards have sent or received funds using Visa Direct. In fiscal year 2021, we continued to build out Visa Direct’s global reach, surpassing five billion transactions. In terms of insurance disbursements, we added Nationwide to begin distributing claims to eligible cards using Visa Direct. In the P2P cross-border space, we added Paysend. Soon, Western Union‘s U.S. customers will be able to send funds to eligible Visa cards in the Philippines, Thailand, Colombia and Jamaica, followed by a robust expansion into other countries.

In B2B payments — which represents $120 trillion of the $185 trillion opportunity in new flows — we continue to focus on three main growth areas: card-based businesses; high value, low volume cross-border transactions and domestic receivables and payables. We expanded Visa B2B Connect, our proprietary network built to make cross-border B2B transactions cheaper and faster. We can now operate in more than 100 countries and territories, with more and more banks joining the platform as we scale. We have also seen more issuers in the B2B card space in the form of commercial cards, small business cards, T&E and purchasing cards, as well as virtual cards.  

Visa Direct image
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Value added services | Tangible value for clients and partners

Visa’s expertise in security and digital commerce is vast and deep. Increasingly, we’re helping our partners harness the breadth and depth of that knowledge with value added services. The goal of value added services is to help clients and partners maximize their own business outcomes while producing a sizable revenue stream for Visa.

Our value added services fall into four categories: issuer solutions, acceptance solutions, risk and identity solutions, and advisory services.

Our issuer solutions are tools that assist our partners who provide Visa credentials to consumers and businesses. These services include our debit processing business, DPS, and a range of other services and digital solutions, such as account controls, digital issuance, branded consumer experiences and buy now, pay later (BNPL) capabilities.

Acceptance solutions include offerings such as dispute management services, Rapid Seller Onboarding and Cybersource. Cybersource enables sellers to offer omnichannel digital commerce experiences, such as buy online/pick-up in store and curbside pick-up. Acquirers have started to utilize Cybersource and offer its capabilities to a wide range of merchants.

As commerce goes digital, so does organized crime. Our risk and identity solutions help protect against fraud, theft, and unauthorized use through advanced risk management capabilities, and include tools such as Visa Advanced Authorization, Visa Advanced Identity Score and Visa Secure. Tokens are another example of how we are utilizing value added services to better secure the payments ecosystem. Across more than 8,600 issuers and 800,000 merchants, tokens have led to a 2.5 percent increase in approval rates and a 28 percent reduction in fraud rates. And all of our efforts in authentication, risk, identity and authorization optimization have led to cross-border card-not-present approval rates increasing by nearly two points in the past fiscal year.

Lastly, a team of hundreds of payments specialists, data scientists and economists drive our advisory services offerings, working hand in glove with clients to deliver added value to hundreds of clients on both sides of our network around the world. They provide tools to help clients grow their businesses and drive differentiated experiences.

In fiscal year 2021, 40 percent of our clients used five or more value added services, and nearly 30 percent used ten or more, up from about 20 percent in fiscal year 2020. Since the pandemic began, our value added services revenue has averaged a quarterly growth rate in the high teens, for a total of approximately $5 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2021.

In fiscal year 2021, 40% of our clients used five or more value added services and nearly 30% used 10 or more, up from about 20% in fiscal year 2020

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Enabling the future of commerce

We also continue to invest in assets that support our growth levers, our network of networks capabilities and the wider payments ecosystem. On the immediate horizon we are making investments into open banking, cross-border solutions, crypto capabilities and BNPL.

Open banking is the use of APIs to share consumers’ financial data, with their consent, with trusted third parties who, in turn, create and distribute financial products and services for the consumer to help make their lives easier. It is an emerging area in financial services — one we feel Visa is exceedingly well positioned to advance. The current epicenter of open banking is Europe, where we signed a definitive agreement to acquire the Swedish fintech, Tink, a platform that enables financial institutions, fintechs and merchants to build financial management tools, products and services. We see the promise of open banking as one that makes the financial lives of both consumers and businesses simpler, more reliable and secure. Together with Tink, we intend to enable a secure, reliable platform for innovation and expand the business beyond Europe to other markets around the world.  

Also in fiscal year 2021, we announced that we signed a definitive agreement to acquire Currencycloud. Currently supporting nearly 500 banking and tech clients across more than 180 countries and territories, Currencycloud’s cloud-based platform offers a range of APIs that enable banks and other financial services providers to offer currency exchange services to their clients. Currencycloud will strengthen Visa’s existing foreign exchange capabilities while enabling new use cases and payment flows for clients.

We also continue to see real growth in emerging networks and ecosystems. Visa’s past, present and future are all about fostering innovation. We enable much of the healthy disruption and innovation in the payments ecosystem, which helps to accelerate Visa and our partners’ growth. For example, nearly 60 companies are working with us to offer Visa cards linked to cryptocurrency wallets and many central banks are engaging with us to help them work through solutions for their own CBDCs.

BNPL is another emerging area. Through partnerships with Moneris, CIBC and Commerce Bank in North America and GHL Systems Malaysia in Asia Pacific, for example, Visa is empowering financial institutions to add BNPL as a feature for cardholders on their already approved credit lines. Visa continues to foster innovation by delivering scale to the disruptors and helping more traditional and important financial institutions adapt quickly to the rapidly evolving ecosystem.

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Living our purpose

At Visa, we believe that economies that include everyone, everywhere, uplift everyone, everywhere. Throughout the fiscal year, we have invested in strategic initiatives that make good on that belief, putting our mission and purpose to work by making a true, global impact. 

This year, we invited the world to “Meet Visa,” a network working for everyone. The first stage of our multi-year brand transformation showcases our diverse capabilities as a leading global payments technology company. It also emphasizes the impact a purpose-driven brand with our scale can have to enable individuals, businesses and economies to thrive.

Visa brand launch layouts

Part of being committed to building an inclusive economy and advancing economic opportunity for all means ensuring all businesses, no matter the size, have access to secure, convenient, reliable and affordable payments and financial services. Toward that end, we’re proud to report that this year we made significant progress on our commitment to digitally enable 50 million small and micro businesses by 2023

As the urgency of combatting the global climate crisis grows, we will continue to seek out opportunities to use the power of our business and brand to support sustainable commerce and inclusive economic growth. We are working to inspire and empower numerous sustainable behaviors, such as enabling sustainable mass transit usage, where we are already collaborating on nearly 500 live contactless transit projects with over 700 in the pipeline

Looking inward, in the U.S., we continued to make progress toward our goal to increase the number of underrepresented employees in our workforce by 50 percent by 2025 and in our leadership (Vice President level and above) by 2023. We’re also investing in diverse future leaders by welcoming the first class of students in the Visa Black Scholars & Jobs program, a $10 million scholarship, mentorship, and professional training program for Black college students studying business and technology. Michelle Gethers-Clark joined Visa’s Executive Committee as Chief Diversity Officer and Head of Corporate Responsibility in May 2021, reporting directly to me, to oversee these initiatives, as well as our commitment to sustainability.

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What comes after | Confidence in the future, today

In closing, I’d like to express my gratitude to all of our stakeholders — from the millions of partners, clients, merchants, and fellow innovators across more than 100 million merchant locations and over 15,100 financial institutions, to our stockholders, regulators, end consumers and all of our 21,500 employees. Visa is an amazing company with a world class brand, incredible technology and great people. It’s those people who have kept the engine of commerce running with dedication, innovation, grit and grace in a clearly challenging pandemic period starting in February 2020. For that, I am truly grateful

Visa has always been a company driven by a noble purpose: to enable individuals, businesses, and economies to thrive. As I look ahead to fiscal year 2022 and our ambitious goals for the future, I am extremely excited about the value we can bring to the world, to our global clients, and to our investors. We are committed and well-positioned to take full advantage of a world of payments and money movement that is becoming increasingly digital.

Alfred F. Kelly, Jr.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

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