visa corporate naming case

Visa Inc is one of those corporations that have evolved from the original idea. Launched back in 1958 as Bank Americard by the Bank of America (BofA) the founders obviously didn’t think the credit card program would become as internationally renowned as it has become through time. Otherwise they wouldn’t go for a corporate naming that is (or at least sounds) restrictive to America and Americans only.

The credit card program has successfully spread across other countries – first Canada, then France, and the UK. The BofA licensed the program to localised banks which came up with other names for the cards. From 1968 to 1997 you could get a Chargex credit card in Canada, a Carte Bleue in France, and Barclaycard in the UK. You can see the card design of the old Bank Americard here.

In 1970 the various bank issuers of the Bank Americard created an independent corporation which would take control of the program. This corporation was named National Bank Americard Inc. (NBI). However, the different names of the credit program throughout the countries were not convenient and a decision was made for all credit card programs under the NBI authority to be united under a single new name.

visa corporate naming case

What is known today as VISA – VISA International Service Association is actually a recursive backronym. The Visa corporate naming was not initially an acronym but a simple word. The reason was that visa is actually a common word in many languages and therefore easy to recognise and perceive. Furthermore, the word suggests acceptance – as the original meaning of visa, the idea is that the credit card can be used in many countries and serves as a universal way of transferring and using money.

If you’re interested in reading more naming stories about big international companies feel free to check our articles on Amazon and eBay, Shell, and why the prefix i exist on most of Apple products nowadays.