CEO Club Briefing

Payments Ecosystem

Excerpt from remarks to Boston College Chief Executives Club  

September 27, 2018


The payments world is a very unique business from two perspectives. One is that it requires many players in order to operate. If you didn’t have a lot of different players in the ecosystem, it would fall apart. 

The other great thing about it—you mentioned Pepsi—I started my career at Pepsi, and there’s a business where there’s only so many people in the world that are going to drink sugared water every day. So, if you work at Pepsi or Coke, you come to work every day figuring out how to nudge one basis point of share from the other guy, how to get one more inch of shelf space in a supermarket for your product. The payments ecosystem is growing. I don’t spend any time thinking about market share. I come to work every day thinking about how am I going to grow the market. And the market’s growing tremendously. The biggest competitor we have in the world is Cash, Inc. You know, Cash, Inc. doesn’t have any infrastructure. It doesn’t have any management. But last year, $17 trillion in the consumer space was still spent on cash around the world, including $4 trillion here in the United States.

So fintechs are a reality. I actually tell people that I think Visa is the greatest fintech story in the world. We’ve only been a public company for 10 years. It was an association before that. It wasn’t a commercial enterprise. And in those 10 years, it’s had just massive growth. When the company went public in 2008, we had 5,000 employees. Today, we have—I’m not even sure, we add so many every day—but we’re coming up on 17,000. We were operating in far less countries than we were and our volumes much less, and our stock is up almost 1,200 percent from the time the company went public on March 28th of 2008. 

So, we’re a great fintech story. By definition, since we’ve added—we only had 5,000 employees, and we have 17,000—you can imagine how many young people we have. I’m an old man at Visa—probably an old man everywhere, but certainly at Visa. I’m an old guy. But there’s so much enthusiasm amongst our young engineers. I said 17,000 people. We have 8,000 of our 17,000 work in technology. Most of them are engineers, although we have a massive amount of people who work in cybersecurity. I just signed off last week—October 1st is the beginning of our next fiscal year—and I just signed off on our cybersecurity budget for next year. We will have 840 people next year fully dedicated to cybersecurity alone, because the trust of the ecosystem is so important.