LAS VEGAS – Visa USA is looking to credit unions as a ready market for those prepaid card products which are showing big market gains, according to a top Visa executive. In a luncheon speech to the annual National Directors' Convention here, Elizabeth Buse, Visa's executive vice president of product development and management, said the card advantage for CUs is in building members and "opening the doors for a new customer base." "Over the next three to five years, we have the potential to add $50 billion in incremental volume through our prepaid products and that's a tremendous opportunity for all of you," declared Buse. Credit unions are ideal for this kind of product because of their branch network and "we are seeing more and more credit unions embrace the gift cards" with the cards growing 30% last year to $40 billion. Moreover, the payroll cards "show particular promise," she said citing McDonalds, Denny's, Federal Express and U-Haul as firms which have moved "to embrace plastic over paper." She said prepaid cards "unlock the cash and check opportunity to a new customer base" and the product differentiates Visa from competitors "many of whom still operate as old school credit card companies." On another topic, the San Francisco card executive drew applause from the audience of 1,400 when she said Visa had "terminated" CardSystems Solutions as a processor following the May security breach which created widespread ID card lapses. CardSystems engaged "in a disregard for the rules" of card security which were "simply unacceptable." In her speech, Buse emphasized the strong ties she expects her firm to continue with CUs "because we are both member organizations and in the relationship business." "People don't just do business with their credit union-they belong to it and you don't just do business with Visa, you're a member," she concluded. -

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