Visa is the world's second-largest card payment organization (debit and credit cards combined), after being surpassed by China UnionPay in 2015, based on annual value of card payments transacted and number of issued cards.
It was established in 1958 by Bank of America (BofA) as the BankAmericard credit card program. In response to competitor Master Charge (now MasterCard), BofA began to license the BankAmericard program to other financial institutions in 1966. By 1970, BofA gave up direct control of the BankAmericard program, forming a consortium with the other various BankAmericard issuer banks to take over its management. It was then renamed Visa in 1976.
Visa has operations across all six continents. Nearly all Visa transactions worldwide are processed through the company's directly operated VisaNet at one of four secure data centers, located in Ashburn, Virginia; Highlands Ranch, Colorado; London, England; and Singapore. These facilities are heavily secured against natural disasters, crime, and terrorism; can operate independently of each other and from external utilities if necessary; and can handle up to 30,000 simultaneous transactions and up to 100 billion computations every second.