The means of payment revolution began in the year 1958.
While in the early 1950s some banks developed primitive banking
cards, plastic money didn't take off until 1958, when the Bank of
America of California launched its first BankAmericard throughout
the state, and another US Bank, the First National Bank of San Jorge,
computerized its operating procedures.
These two developments showed the confidence of Banks in the new
payment facilities. At the end of 1959 nearly 150 US banks were
issuing credit cards. A decisive step had been taken, and soon such
leading US banks as the Chase Manhattan, Marine Midland Trust of
Buffalo, and Citizens and Southern of Atlanta joined in.
The Germ of Cooperation
Despite the initial enthusiasm, growth of banking cards
in the early 1960s was slower than expected. Costs remained high,
and new technical problems cropped up constantly. Many banks suffered
setbacks in the development of their cards.
Bank of America took the lead in addressing these problems by founding
a national card organization called Bank of America Service Corporation
(BSC). This organization allowed other banks to issue BankAmericards
under license. The card with its blue, white and gold stripes became
famous around the world. The initiative was so successful that before
the year was out a total of eight major banks were taking part.
As of 1969, no bank issued cards that were not associated with BankAmericard
or similar programs. In that year the number of US banks issuing
banking cards to their customers reached 1,207.
The popularity of these cards led the Bank of America to surrender
control of its own card, and in June 1971 it formed the National
BankAmericard Incorporated (NBI) company to manage its card in the
United States. The original BSC organization was assigned the role
of administering the traditional three-stripe card outside the United
Visa and MasterCard
In 1972 it was decided to create an institution for grouping all
the worldwide issuers of the BankAmericard. To this end Ibanco Ltd.,
was founded, and it became operational in 1974. However, US issuers
remained within the NBI organisation.
But in 1977 the issuing members decided on new changes that spawned
the Visa brand. NBI became Visa USA and Ibanco became Visa International.
MasterCard had its origins in an initiative by several US banks
at the end of the 1940s, which organised a paper-based system to
enable their clients to buy on credit at particular stores. In 1951
the Franklin National Bank of New York launched its first card associated
to a credit line. In 1966 several Banks joined to create the Interbank
Card Association (ICA) which would later become MasterCard International.
MasterCard International began its international expansion in 1968,
when it was joined first by the Banco Nacional de México,
and a year later entered into an alliance in Europe with Eurocard.
The MasterCard name was adopted at the end of the 1970s. Now MasterCard
International has concluded a process of transformation from an
association of more than 15,000 member financial institutions into
a public stock company. In this process, MasterCard International
and Europay were merged into a new global Means of Payment company:
The United Kingdom was the pioneer of banking cards in Europe. In
1966 Barclays Bank began to issue the Barclaycard. A year later
85 French banks started issuing the Carte Bleu, which had no international
links. This initial experience in France was not a success, since
the system was conceived to process invoices automatically at merchants
via an optical reading device, for direct debiting to their customers´
accounts. Plagued by errors and high costs, the Carte Bleu initiative
improved only when a network of ATMs was added. In 1973 Carte Bleu
became internationally connected via an agreement with Bank Americard.
Another leading European card organisation is MasterCard International
formerly known as Europay International. MasterCard International traces
its origins to 1964 when the Swedish banker Wallenberg founded the
Eurocard company as an alternative to American Express. In 1968
Eurocard entered into a strategic alliance with MasterCard International
-- then known as the Interbank Card Association, which gave rise
to Eurocard International. From the on, Eurocard International would
be the sole company authorised to issue MasterCard cards in Europe.
In 1974, and as a consequence of the rapid growth of the means of
payment, Eurocheque International (ECI) was formed for the international
processing of Eurocheques, which were used by travellers to pay
for goods and services in the local currencies of many countries.
In the 1980s there were two separate entities: Eurocheque and Eurocard.
Although they belonged to practically the same European banks, they
offered different products. The former supplied guaranteed cheques
and paper clearing systems, while the latter engaged in issued conventional
Europay International became MasterCard International in 2002, following
the merger of Europay with MasterCard International to form a global
In 2004 the Visa Europe region was split into two companies: Visa Europe Limited (Group Member of Visa International) and Visa Europe Services Inc. (an operator company wholly owned by Visa Europe Ltd.). The two companies are both known by the generic appellation of Visa Europe.
In May 2006 MasterCard begins trading on the New York and London Stock Exchange.
In March 2008 Visa Inc. launched an initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange.
In 1971 Banco de Bilbao launched the BankAmericard, which until
then had been unknown in Europe except in the United Kingdom. A
major promotional campaign helped bring the card into use on a massive
On March 16, 1979 an autonomous institution Visa España (now
ServiRed) was set up to bring 29 financial institutions into the
Visa system, but by the end of the year the number of members had
grown to 56, and it included banks, savings banks, rural savings
banks and credit cooperatives.
The other major banking card network in Spain, Sistema 4B, had pre-dated
Visa España by a few months, and was linked directly to Visa
International. The banks taking part in this network were Banesto,
Banco Central, Banco Hispano Americano and Banco Santander. Successive mergers since have brought all these banks into the Santander
group. Meanwhile, Spain's savings banks set up the country's third means of payment system, Red 6000, currently Euro 6000.
ServiRed, a payments system that was registered as a civil partnership was incorporated as a public stock company since Junuary 2007 in order to join the planned Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) on the same legal terms as other Spanish an European payments systems.