Thursday, 22 April 2004

Easy money

In the Observer last Sunday there was an interview with the man who was a junior manager in a small provincial bank in 1968, when he invented the idea of global electronic money. He called it Visa International and sold it to the world.

Today in the UK we own 60 million credit cards and have a debt on them of £53.5 billion (75% of the European total). Each year, British adults make, on average, almost 40 credit card purchases (the French average two a year, the Germans one every two years). In the United States the value of transactions on cards has just passed those for cheques and cash.

If he had put his name to the product, the inventor of Visa would be the best-known man on earth, but he thought this might affect its popularity.

His name is Hock.

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