Visa (NYSE:V) has announced that spending on Visa debit cards in the U.S. has surpassed credit for the first time in the company's history.
For the period ending December 31, 2008, debit payments volume was $206 billion, compared with credit payments volume of $203 billion.
Debit transactions were nearly 70% of U.S. transactions for the same time period, representing an increasingly larger portion of Visa's U.S. transactions.
"In 2002, U.S. Visa debit transactions surpassed credit transactions for the first time, and now payments volume has also exceeded credit. This marks an important achievement for Visa, as we continue to advance migration to electronic payments from cash and checks," said Bill Sheedy, President, North America, Visa, Inc. "For more than 20 years, Visa has championed the adoption of debit as a convenient and secure payment alternative for consumers and businesses. Now that cardholders can use Visa for almost every type of everyday spending - from taxis to grocery stores - the value of electronic payments over cash and checks is more clearly evident."
Consumers are increasingly turning to debit cards for non-discretionary purchases, or everyday spending. As of March 2009, approximately 52 percent of debit volume was for non-discretionary items like food and clothing in the U.S.
The top categories for Visa debit usage include bill payment, gas, groceries and quick service restaurants. Additionally, Visa research shows consumers have a growing preference for using debit in new merchant categories where cash and check were once the preferred way to pay - like dry cleaners, gas/service stations, movie theaters and convenience stores.
"In today's challenging economic environment, debit is an ideal way for consumers to access their own funds and focus on smarter spending, budgeting and control," continued Sheedy. "The increased popularity of debit also provides our financial institution clients with an important tool that allows them to build strong and lasting relationships with their customers, while providing greater choice, security and convenience over less efficient forms of payment."
Within the U.S. marketplace, Visa's debit strategy has been to simplify card issuance and transaction processing for financial institution and merchant clients. Security enhancements like Zero Liability3 which protect consumers from unauthorized use, and merchant programs like no-signature required have also helped to increase the products' popularity among cardholders who have embraced this pay-now alternative.
"This milestone could only be reached with the support of Visa's financial institution and merchant clients including a broad range of critical industry partners, including acquirers, processors and terminal manufacturers," observed Sheedy. "We're encouraged that the industry has embraced Visa debit and we will continue to work hard to ensure Visa product enhancements keep pace with evolving consumer needs."
Visa debit features prominently in the company's recently introduced global advertising campaign entitled, "More People Go with Visa." The print, online and television advertisements promote the security, control and convenience advantages that Visa debit provides over cash and checks.