Visa 10-K 2010
Documents found in this filing:
UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010
For the transition period from to
Commission file number 001-33977
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
Registrants telephone number, including area code: (415) 932-2100
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
Title of each Class
Class B common stock, par value $.0001 per share
Class C common stock, par value $.0001 per share
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes þ No ¨
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. Yes ¨ No þ
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes þ No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes þ No ¨
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained to the best of registrants knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, or a non-accelerated filer. See the definitions of large accelerated filer accelerated filer and smaller reporting company in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ¨ No þ
The aggregate market value of the registrants class A common stock, par value $.0001 per share, held by non-affiliates (using the New York Stock Exchange closing price as of March 31, 2010, the last business day of the registrants most recently completed second fiscal quarter) was approximately $44.8 billion. There is currently no established public trading market for the registrants class B common stock, par value $.0001 per share, or the registrants class C common stock, par value $.0001 per share.
As of November 10, 2010 there were 496,665,483 shares outstanding of the registrants class A common stock, par value $.0001 per share, 245,513,385 shares outstanding of the registrants class B common stock, par value $.0001 per share, and 94,690,736 shares outstanding of the registrants class C common stock, par value $.0001 per share.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the Registrants Proxy Statement for the 2011 Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated herein by reference in Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the extent stated herein. Such Proxy Statement will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days of the Registrants fiscal year ended September 30, 2010.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Unless the context requires otherwise, reference to Company, Visa, we, us or our refers to Visa Inc. and its subsidiaries.
The registered trademarks of Visa Inc. and its subsidiaries include: All It Takes; Bands DesignBlue, White & Gold; Dove Design; Interlink; Life Takes Visa; PLUS; Verified by Visa; Visa; Visa Classic; Visa Corporate; Porque La Vida es Ahora; The Worlds Best Way to Pay; Visa Electron; Visa Europe; Visa Fleet; Visa Infinite; Visa Mobile; VisaNet; Visa Platinum; Visa Purchasing; Visa Resolve OnLine; Visa ReadyLink; Visa Signature; Visa Signature Business; Visa Vale; and Winged V Design. Other trademarks used in this report are the property of their respective owners.
This annual report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements can be identified by the terms believe, continue, could, estimate, expect, intend, may, potential, project, should, will, and similar references to the future. Examples of such forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements we make about our earnings per share, cash flow, revenue, incentive payments, expenses, operating margin, tax rate and capital expenditures and the growth of those items.
By their nature, forward-looking statements: (i) speak only as of the date they are made, (ii) are neither statements of historical fact nor guarantees of future performance and (iii) are subject to risks, uncertainties, assumptions and changes in circumstances that are difficult to predict or quantify. Therefore, actual results could differ materially and adversely from those forward-looking statements because of a variety of factors, including the following:
the other factors discussed under the heading Risk Factors herein. You should not place undue reliance on such statements. Unless required to do so by law, we do not intend to update or revise any forward-looking statement, because of new information or future developments or otherwise.
Visa Inc. (Visa or the Company) is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, banks and governments in more than 200 countries and territories, enabling them to use digital currency instead of cash and checks.
Our business primarily consists of the following:
To ensure our long-term success and the success of our clients:
We operate an open-loop payments network, a multi-party system in which Visa connects financial institutionsissuing financial institutions (or issuers) that issue cards to cardholders, and acquiring financial institutions (or acquirers) that have the banking relationship with merchants and manage the exchange of information and value between them. As such, Visa does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. In most instances, cardholder and merchant relationships belong to, and are managed by, our network of financial institution clients. We derive revenues primarily from fees paid by our clients based on payments volume, transactions that we process and other related services that we provide.
Business developments in fiscal 2010 included the following:
The Global Payments Industry
We operate in the global payments industry, which is undergoing a powerful secular shift towards card-based and other electronic payments and away from paper-based payments, such as cash and checks. For more than 50 years, Visa has played a central role in driving this migration by providing payment products and services that we believe deliver significant benefits to consumers, businesses, governments and merchants. We believe that consumers are increasingly attracted to the convenience, security, enhanced services and rewards associated with electronic payment forms. We also believe that corporations and governments are shifting to electronic payments to improve efficiency, control and security, and that a growing number of merchants are accepting electronic payments to improve sales and customer convenience.
The global payments industry consists of all forms of payment and value transfer, including:
The most common card-based forms of payment are general-purpose cards, which offer widespread merchant acceptance. General purpose cards are typically categorized as:
Primary global general purpose card brands include Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB and Discover/Diners Club. While these brandsincluding Visawere historically associated with consumer credit or charge cards in the United States and other major international markets, Visa and others have, over time, broadened their offerings to include debit, ATM, prepaid and commercial cards.
Our Core Operations
We derive revenues primarily from fees paid by our clients based on payments volume, transactions that we process and other related services we provide. Our clients deliver Visa products and payment services to consumers and merchants based on product platforms we define and manage. Payments network management is a core part of our operations, as it ensures that our payments system provides a safe, efficient, consistent and interoperable service to cardholders, merchants and financial institutions worldwide.
Transaction Processing Services
We own and operate VisaNet, which consists of multiple synchronized processing centers, including a new east coast data center in the United States. In addition, Visa Europe operates one processing center in the United Kingdom, which is part of our synchronized system in accordance with the terms of our Framework Agreement with Visa Europe. These centers are linked by a global telecommunications network and are engineered for redundancy. Intelligent access points around the world complete our global processing infrastructure and enable merchants and financial institutions worldwide to access our core processing and value-added services.
VisaNet is built on a centralized architecture, enabling us to view and analyze each authorization transaction we process in real time and to provide value-added information, such as risk scoring or loyalty applications, while the transaction data is being routed through our system.
CyberSource, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Visa Inc., operates multiple data centers in the United States and internationally. These secure data center facilities allow for high availability transaction services and connectivity to the Internet, clients and processing partners.
Core Processing Services
Our core processing services involve the routing of payment information and related data to facilitate the authorization, clearing and settlement of transactions between Visa issuers and acquirers. In addition, we offer a range of value-added processing services to support our clients Visa programs and to promote the growth and security of the Visa payments network.
Authorization is the process of approving or declining a transaction before a purchase is finalized or cash is disbursed. Clearing is the process of delivering final transaction data from an acquirer to an issuer for posting to the cardholders account, the calculation of certain fees and charges that apply to the issuer and acquirer involved in the transaction, and the conversion of transaction amounts to the appropriate settlement currencies. Settlement is the process of calculating, determining, reporting and transferring the net financial position of our issuers and acquirers for all transactions that are cleared.
The issuer and acquirer involved in a typical Visa transaction perform additional functions that we do not generally perform or monitor. For example, the acquirer credits the merchants account for the
amount of the transaction less any fees the acquirer charges in accordance with the contractual agreement between the merchant and the acquirer. In addition, the issuer sends a statement to the cardholder and collects payment, in the case of a credit or deferred debit card, or collects payment directly from the cardholders deposit account, in the case of a debit card.
We process most Visa transactions occurring in the United States. We also process most Visa transactions where the issuer and the merchant are located in different countries, referred to as cross-border transactions. In many countries outside the United States, domestic transactions may be processed outside of our systems, generally by government-controlled payments networks, our clients, independent companies or joint ventures owned in whole or in part by our clients.
We perform clearing and settlement through VisaNet for transactions involving an issuer that is located in Visa Europes region and an acquirer that is located in the rest of the world, or vice versa. In addition, we provided clearing and settlement services for Visa transactions occurring entirely within Visa Europes region before Visa Europe substantially deployed its own processing system in fiscal 2010. The impact to our consolidated financial results as a result of this deployment was not material. Visa Europe authorizes transactions for its members through its own processing system.
Other Value-Added Processing Services
We offer a range of other value-added services in certain countries, including risk management, debit issuer processing, loyalty services, dispute management and value-added information services.
Risk Management Services. We provide clients in certain countries with a number of value-added risk-management services. These services, including Visa Advanced Authorization, include preventive, monitoring, investigative and predictive tools, which are intended to mitigate and help eliminate fraud at the cardholder and merchant level.
Issuer Processing Services. Visa Debit Processing Services (DPS) provides comprehensive issuer processing services for participating U.S. issuers of Visa debit, prepaid and ATM payment products. In addition to core issuer authorization processing, DPS offers card management services, exception processing, PIN and ATM network gateways, call center services, fraud detection services and ATM terminal driving. Visa Processing Service (VPS) provides credit, debit and prepaid issuer processing services, including multicurrency processing functionality, outside the United States.
Loyalty Services. We offer loyalty services, such as the Visa Incentive Network and Visa Extras, which allow our clients to differentiate their Visa program offerings, enhance the attractiveness of their Visa payment programs and strengthen their relationships with cardholders and merchants.
Dispute Management Services. We manage Visa Resolve Online, an automated web-based service that allows our clients back-office analysts and client service representatives to manage and resolve Visa transaction disputes more efficiently than with paper-based processes.
Value-Added Information Services. We provide our clients with a range of additional information-based business analytics and applications, as well as the transaction data and associated infrastructure required to support them.
Additionally, through our CyberSource-branded solutions, we provide technology and services that make it easier for eCommerce merchants to accept, process and reconcile payments, manage fraud, and safeguard payment security online. CyberSource brings these payment management solutions to market on two platforms: CyberSource Enterprise services, targeting medium and large-sized enterprise businesses, and Authorize.Net, targeting smaller businesses with less than $3 million in annual online sales.
We offer a broad range of product platforms that enable our clients to build differentiated, competitive payment programs for their consumer, business, government and merchant clients. Our principal payment platforms enable credit, charge, deferred debit, debit and prepaid payments, as well as cash access for consumers, businesses and government entities. Our payment platforms are offered under our Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink and PLUS brands.
Our consumer credit product platforms allow our issuers to offer deferred payment and financing products that can be customized to meet the needs of all consumer segments. Our baseline consumer credit platform is marketed to our issuers as Visa Classic. In addition, we offer premium credit platforms. These enable our issuers to tailor programs to consumers requiring higher credit lines or enhanced benefits, such as loyalty programs. Our premium consumer credit platforms are marketed to issuers, and in some cases, to cardholders, as Visa Gold, Visa Platinum, Visa Signature, Visa Signature Preferred and Visa Infinite.
Consumer Deposit Access
Our deposit access product platforms enable our issuers to offer consumer payment and cash access products that draw on consumers deposit accounts, such as checking, demand deposit, asset or other pre-funded accounts.
Consumer Debit. Our primary consumer debit platform in the United States and many other countries uses the Visa brand mark. Our clients in Asia Pacific (AP), Latin America and Caribbean (LAC), and Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA), can use the Visa Electron debit platform, which requires all transactions initiated from the card to be authorized electronically. It is primarily used by issuers offering payment programs to higher risk client segments or in countries where electronic authorization is less prevalent. In the United States, we also provide the Interlink debit product platform, which generally requires a cardholder to enter a personal identification number (PIN), for authentication. Interlink may be enabled through an acceptance mark on a Visa debit card or issued as a standalone debit card.
Prepaid. Our prepaid product platform enables issuers to offer products that access a pre-funded account, allowing cardholders to enjoy the convenience and security of a payment card in lieu of cash or checks. Our prepaid platform includes gift, travel, youth, payroll, money transfer, corporate incentive, insurance reimbursement and government benefits cards.
Cash Access. Our clients can provide global cash access to their cardholders by issuing products accepted at Visa and PLUS branded ATMs. Most Visa and Visa Electron branded cards offer cash access at ATMs, as well as at branches of our participating financial institution clients. The PLUS brand may also be included on issuers non-Visa branded cards to offer international cash access as a complement to domestic cash access services.
Our commercial product platforms enable small businesses, medium and large companies, and government organizations to streamline payment processes, manage total spend, access information reporting, automate their supply chain and reduce administrative costs.
Small Businesses. The Visa Business credit and debit platforms provide small businesses with cash flow tools, purchasing savings, rewards and management reporting. Visa Business Electron is an electronic authorization platform used in many countries outside North America.
Large and Medium Companies. The Visa Corporate platform offers payment options primarily for employee travel and entertainment charges, including cash advances, and provides detailed transaction data as well as information and expense management tools. The Visa Purchasing platform provides card and non-card electronic payment products that allow companies to easily procure goods and services, while streamlining resource- and paper-intensive purchase order and invoice processing. Through Syncada, our joint venture with US Bank, we market an integrated invoice processing, payment and financing platform for financial institutions to offer to their corporate and government commercial clients around the world.
Government Organizations. In addition to the products mentioned above, Visa offers government organizations unique information-and expense-management tools, employee-fraud-and misuse-management tools and strategic sourcing tools for their card programs. In certain countries, Visa offers specialized commercial products for specific government-sponsored programs, typically targeting agriculture, small-business, freight or construction loan programs.
Product Platform Innovation
Our fundamental approach to innovation focuses on enhancing our current product platforms and extending the utility of our products and services to new merchant segments and geographies. We invest in innovation because we believe we can drive more secure, accessible and versatile payment program options for clients, merchants and consumers. We focus on new payment channels, card technologies, payment account access devices and authentication methods, and have recently made significant investments in the development of: eCommerce payment platforms; contact and contactless chip cards and devices; card product enhancements; authentication and security technologies and platforms; and money transfer.
In addition to the eCommerce (CyberSource) development mentioned above, we announced the following innovative offerings:
Payments Network Management
We devote significant resources to ensure that Visa is the payments network of choice for clients, merchants and cardholders. We seek to accomplish this by promoting our brand through marketing and sponsorship activities, increasing acceptance of Visa cards around the world and ensuring that the system operates reliably and securely for all of our network participants.
Brand Management and Promotion, and Corporate Reputation
We engage in a variety of activities designed to maintain and enhance the value of our brand, taking a targeted, analytical approach tailored by geography to achieve our growth and business objectives. We combine advertising, sponsorships, promotions, public relations and, increasingly, social media to create programs that build active preference for products carrying our brand, promote product
usage, increase product acceptance and support cardholder acquisition and retention. For merchants, we work to ensure that the Visa brand represents timely and guaranteed payment, as well as a way to increase sales. For our clients, our marketing program is designed to support their card issuance, activation and usage efforts while complementing and enhancing the value of their own brands.
We establish global marketing relationships to promote the Visa brand and to allow clients to conduct marketing programs in conjunction with major sporting and entertainment events. For instance, we have been the exclusive payment card sponsor for the Olympic Games since 1986 and recently extended the sponsorship through 2020. We are also one of six FIFA partners, which provides us with worldwide exclusive access to the FIFA World Cup and more than 40 other FIFA competitions through 2014. This sponsorship creates a powerful opportunity to drive business, achieve maximum exposure and improve brand lift, global reach and local relevance. In addition, we engage in marketing and sponsorship activities with other regional, national and local companies, sports leagues or events, such as the National Football League in the United States, or with associations and companies, to provide customized marketing platforms to clients in certain countries and regions.
Our merchant marketing activities bring added value to our merchant partners through the development of marketing programs customized for specific merchants and industry segments. These programs, which we develop in conjunction with merchants, generate awareness for new acceptance channels and locations and increase cardholder spending and merchant sales revenue through special offers and promotions.
In addition, we work on various fronts to maintain, enhance and protect our corporate reputation and brand. Our Corporate Responsibility program helps ensure we positively impact the lives of those in our global and local communities. We do so by focusing on promoting financial literacy and inclusion, providing humanitarian aid and community support, and engaging in responsible business practices. We continue to stress the importance of promoting an understanding of Visas role as a payments network and articulating the ways that digital currency can advance economic empowerment and business efficiencies. To that end, Currency of Progress, our corporate reputation campaign launched in October 2009, communicates the tangible benefits that Visa and digital currency delivers to individuals, businesses, governments and economies.
Merchant Acceptance Initiatives
We aim to maintain and expand our merchant base by focusing on the needs of merchants and consumers and enhancing our programs to increase acceptance in attractive and fast-growing segments, such as bill payment. Our efforts to address these needs include supporting the development of technological innovations, delivering value-added information services, such as the Visa Incentive Network, and evaluating potential modifications to our operating rules and interchange rates to enhance the value of our payments network compared to other forms of payment. For example, in October 2010 we began offering a global program that enables millions of face-to-face merchants to accept Visa cards for transactions of approximately US$25 or less without requiring a cardholder signature, PIN or providing a receipt, unless requested by the cardholder. This program has the potential to increase speed at the point-of-sale, enhance consumer satisfaction and deliver operating efficiencies for merchants.
We also enter into arrangements with certain merchants under which they receive monetary incentives and rebates for acceptance of products carrying our brands and increasing their payments volume of products carrying our brands or indicating a preference for our cards.
Rulemaking and Enforcement. In general, our clients are granted licenses to use our brands and to access our transaction processing systems. Our clients are obligated to honor our rules and
standards through agreements with, and in certain cases non-equity membership interests in, our subsidiaries. These rules and standards relate to such matters as the use of our brands and trademarks; the standards, design and features of payment cards, devices and programs; merchant acquiring activities, including acceptance standards applicable to merchants; use of agents; disputes between members; risk management; guaranteed settlement; client financial failures and allocation of losses among clients.
We establish dispute management procedures between clients relating to specific transactions. For example, after a transaction is presented to an issuer, the issuer may determine that the transaction is invalid for a variety of reasons, including fraud. If the issuer believes there is a defect in a transaction, the issuer may return the transaction to the acquirer, an action termed a chargeback. We enforce rules relating to chargebacks and maintain a dispute resolution process with respect to chargeback disputes.
Credit Risk Management. We indemnify our clients for any settlement loss suffered due to another clients failure to fund its daily settlement obligations. In certain instances, we may indemnify clients even in situations in which a transaction is not processed by our system. No material loss related to settlement risk has been incurred in recent years.
To manage our exposure in the event our clients fail to fund their settlement obligations, we have a credit risk policy with a formalized set of credit standards and risk control measures. We regularly evaluate clients with significant settlement exposure to assess risk. In certain instances, we may require a client to post collateral or provide other guarantees. If a client becomes unable or unwilling to meet its obligations, we are able to draw upon such collateral or guarantee in order to minimize any potential loss. We may also apply other risk control measures, such as blocking the authorization and settlement of transactions, limiting the use of certain types of agents, prohibiting initiation of acquiring relationships with certain high-risk merchants or suspending or terminating a clients rights to participate in our payments network. The exposure to settlement losses is accounted for as a settlement risk guarantee. The fair value of the settlement risk guarantee is estimated using our proprietary model. Key inputs to the model include the probability of clients becoming insolvent, statistically derived loss factors based on historical experience and estimated settlement exposures at period end.
Payment System Integrity
The integrity of our payments system is affected by fraudulent activity and other illegal uses of our products. Fraud is most often committed in connection with counterfeit cards or card-not-present transactions using stolen account information resulting from security breaches of systems that store cardholder or account data, including systems operated by merchants, financial institutions and other third-party data processors.
Our fraud detection and prevention offerings include:
We work with all participants in the payment system to ensure any entity that transmits, processes or stores sensitive card information takes necessary steps to secure that data and protect cardholders. For example, Visa mandates protection of PIN data through use of the Triple Data Encryption Standard and works with the payments industry to manage the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). There has been significant progress in growing industry adoption of PCI DSS with more than 95 percent of the largest U.S. merchants validating compliance annually.
Interchange Reimbursement Fees
Interchange represents a transfer of value between the financial institutions participating in an open-loop payments network such as ours. On purchase transactions, interchange reimbursement fees are paid to issuers by acquirers in connection with transactions initiated with cards in our payments system. We set default interchange rates in the United States and other regions. In certain jurisdictions, interchange rates are subject to government regulation. Although we administer the collection and remittance of interchange reimbursement fees through the settlement process, we do not receive any portion of interchange reimbursement fees. Interchange reimbursement fees are often the largest single component of the costs that acquirers charge merchants in connection with the acceptance of payment cards.
We believe that default interchange reimbursement fees are an important driver of system volume and value, and promote the efficient operation of our payments network by enabling both the issuer and the acquirer to understand the economics of a given transaction before entering into it, and by giving our clients an alternative to negotiating transfer pricing with each other. By establishing and modifying default interchange rates in response to marketplace conditions and strategic demands, we seek to ensure a competitive value proposition for transactions using our cards in order to encourage electronic transactions and to maximize participation in the Visa payments system by issuers and acquirers and, ultimately, consumers and merchants. We believe that proper management of interchange rates benefits consumers, merchants, our financial institution clients and us by promoting the overall growth of our payments network in competition with other payment card systems and other forms of payment, and by creating incentives for innovation, enhanced data quality and security.
Interchange reimbursement fees and related practices have come to the attention of, or have been or are being reviewed by, regulatory authorities and/or central banks in a number of jurisdictions, including, for example, Australia, Canada, Brazil and South Africa. In the United States in particular, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law on July 21, 2010 and will impact interchange fees related to debit card products. We are currently devoting substantial management and financial resources to explain the importance of and defend interchange reimbursement fee practices in these geographies. See Item 1ARisk FactorsInterchange reimbursement fees and related practices are subject to significant legal and regulatory scrutiny worldwide, and resulting regulations may have a material adverse impact on our revenues, our prospects for future growth and our overall business, and Item 8Financial Statements and Supplementary DataNote 22Legal Matters elsewhere in this report.
Merchant Discount Rates. Merchants do not pay interchange reimbursement fees. A merchants cost of acceptance is determined by its acquirer and is called a merchant discount or merchant discount rate. The merchant discount typically covers the costs that acquirers incur for participation in open-loop payments networks, including those relating to interchange, and compensates them for various other services they provide to merchants. Merchant discount rates and other merchant fees are set by our acquirers without our involvement and by agreement with their merchant clients and are established in competition with other acquirers, other payment card systems and other forms of payment. We do not establish or regulate merchant discount rates or any other fees charged by our acquirers.
General. Government regulation affects key aspects of our business. We are subject to regulation of the payments industry in many countries in which our cards are used. Our clients are also subject to numerous regulations applicable to banks and other financial institutions in the United States and elsewhere, and consequently such regulations affect our business. In recent years, our business has come under increasing regulatory scrutiny.
Network Exclusivity and Routing. Issues relating to network exclusivity and to interchange fees associated with open-loop payments systems such as ours are being reviewed or challenged in various jurisdictions in which our cards are used. Most notably, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act recently enacted in the United States includes provisions that will regulate the selection of payment networks by issuers and the routing of debit transactions by retailers. This may result in the routing of debit transactions onto competitive networks, potentially reducing the processing fees we earn on debit transactions.
Interchange Fees. The U.S. Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act also established regulation and oversight by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of debit interchange rates and certain other network industry practices. In addition, the Federal Reserve now has the power to regulate network fees to the extent necessary to prevent evasion of the new rules on interchange rates. Although we administer the collection and remittance of interchange reimbursement fees through the settlement process, we generally do not receive any portion of the interchange reimbursement fees. Interchange reimbursement fees are often the largest component of the costs that acquirers charge merchants in connection with the acceptance of payment cards. Interchange reimbursement fees are an important driver of system volume.
Interchange fees and related practices also have been or are being reviewed by regulatory authorities and/or central banks in a number of jurisdictions. Most notably:
Data Protection and Information Security. Aspects of our operations and business are subject to privacy regulation in the United States and elsewhere. For example, in the United States, our clients and we are respectively subject to Federal Trade Commission and federal banking agency information safeguarding requirements under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The Federal Trade Commissions
information safeguarding rules require us to develop, implement and maintain a written, comprehensive information security program containing safeguards that are appropriate for our size and complexity, the nature and scope of our activities, and the sensitivity of any cardholder information at issue. Our financial institution clients in the United States are subject to similar requirements under the guidelines issued by the federal banking agencies. As part of their compliance with the requirements, each of our U.S. clients is expected to have a program in place for responding to unauthorized access to, or use of, cardholder information that could result in substantial harm or inconvenience to cardholders. In addition, a large number of U.S. states have enacted security breach legislation, requiring varying levels of consumer notification in the event of a security breach.
Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism. Most jurisdictions in which our clients and we operate have implemented, amended or have pending anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism regulations. We are subject to the provisions of the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, which requires the creation and implementation of comprehensive anti-money laundering programs. In general, this requires that we make certain efforts to prevent the use of our payments system to facilitate money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities, including, for example, the designation of a compliance officer, training of employees, adoption of internal policies and procedures to mitigate money laundering risks, and periodic audits.
We are also subject to regulations imposed by the U.S. Treasurys Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, restricting financial dealings with Cuba, Iran, Myanmar and Sudan, as well as financial dealings with certain restricted third parties, such as identified money laundering fronts for terrorists or narcotics traffickers. While we prohibit financial institutions that are domiciled in those countries or are restricted parties from being Visa members, many Visa International members are non-U.S. financial institutions, and thus are not subject to OFAC restrictions. Accordingly, our payments network may be used with respect to transactions in or involving countries or parties subject to OFAC-administered sanctions.
Further, certain U.S. states have enacted legislation regarding investments by pension funds and other retirement systems in companies that have business activities or contacts with countries identified as terrorist-sponsoring states and similar legislation may be pending in other states. As a result, pension funds and other retirement systems may be subject to reporting requirements with respect to investments in companies such as ours or may be subject to limits or prohibitions with respect to those investments.
Issuer Practice Legislation and Regulation. The Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System is in the process of implementing the Credit CARD Act enacted in May 2009. The Credit CARD Act will have a significant impact on the disclosures made by our clients and on our clients account terms and business practices. The Credit CARD Act and its implementing regulations will make it more difficult for credit card issuers to price credit cards for future credit risk and will have a significant effect on the pricing, credit allocation, and business models of most major credit card issuers. The law could reduce credit availability, or increase the cost of credit to cardholders, possibly affecting Visa transaction volume and revenues.
The Credit CARD Act also includes provisions that impose limits and restrictions on certain prepaid (or pay before) card products, including those imposed on fees. The statutory provisions and implementing regulations may diminish the attractiveness of these products to our clients and may consequently adversely affect transaction volumes and revenues.
The Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System has also adopted regulations on overdraft fees imposed in connection with ATM and debit card transactions. These regulations will have the effect of significantly reducing overdraft fees our clients may charge in connection with debit card programs. This may diminish the attractiveness of debit card programs to our clients and may adversely affect transaction volumes and revenues.
Governments in certain countries have acted, or could act, to provide resources or protection to selected national payment card providers or national payment processing providers to support domestic competitors, to displace us from, or prevent us from entering into, or substantially restrict us from participating in, particular geographies. For example, our financial institution clients in China may not issue cards carrying our brands for domestic use in China. Governments in certain other countries have considered similar restrictions from time to time.
Financial Industry Regulation. The U.S. Federal Financial Institution Examination Council periodically reviews certain of our operations in the United States to ensure our compliance with applicable data integrity and security requirements, as well as other requirements applicable to us because of our role as a service provider to financial institutions. In recent years, the federal banking regulators in the United States have adopted a series of regulatory measures intended to require more conservative accounting, greater risk management and higher capital requirements for bank credit card activities, particularly in the case of banks that focus on subprime cardholders.
In the United States, regulators and the U.S. Congress have increased their scrutiny of our clients pricing and underwriting standards relating to credit. For example, a number of regulations have been issued to implement the U.S. Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. One such regulation pertaining to risk-based pricing could have a significant impact on the application process for credit cards and result in increased costs of issuance and/or a decrease in the flexibility of card issuers to set the price of credit.
The U.S. Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act created a new independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau within the Federal Reserve System. The bureau will assume responsibility for most federal consumer protection laws in the area of financial services and will have new authorities with respect to consumer issues, including those pertaining to us to some extent. The creation of the bureau and its actions may make payment card transactions less attractive to card issuers.
Government regulators may determine that we are a systemically important payments system and impose settlement risk management requirements on us, including new settlement procedures or other operational rules to address credit and operational risks or new criteria for client participation and merchant access to our payments system. In addition, outside of the United States, a number of jurisdictions have implemented legal frameworks to regulate their domestic payments systems. For example, regulators in Australia, Mexico, Colombia, India, Singapore and Malaysia have received statutory authority to regulate certain aspects of the payments systems in those countries.
Regulation of Internet Transactions. Many jurisdictions in which our clients and we operate are considering, or are expected to consider, legislation with regard to Internet transactions, and in particular with regard to choice of law, the legality of certain eCommerce transactions, the collection of applicable taxes and copyright and trademark infringement. In October 2006, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation requiring the coding and blocking of payments for certain types of Internet gambling transactions. The legislation applies to payment system participants, including Visa and our U.S. clients, and compliance was required by June 1, 2010. These federal rules require us and our clients to implement compliance programs that could increase our costs, decrease our transaction volumes or both.
In addition, the U.S. Congress continues its consideration of regulatory initiatives in the areas of Internet prescription drug purchases, copyright and trademark infringement, and privacy, among others, that could impose additional compliance burdens on us and/or our clients. Some U.S. states are considering a variety of similar legislation. If implemented, these initiatives could require us or our clients to monitor, filter, restrict, or otherwise oversee various categories of payment card transactions, thereby increasing our costs or decreasing our transaction volumes.
Various regulatory agencies also continue to examine a wide variety of issues, including identity theft, account management guidelines, privacy, disclosure rules, security and marketing that would affect our clients directly. These new requirements and developments may affect our clients ability to extend credit by using payment cards, which could decrease our transaction volumes. In some circumstances, new regulations could have the effect of limiting our clients ability to offer new types of payment programs or restricting their ability to offer our existing programs such as stored value cards.
We rely on a combination of patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret laws in the United States and other jurisdictions, as well as confidentiality procedures and contractual provisions, to protect our proprietary technology.
We own a number of valuable trademarks and designs, which are essential to our business, including Visa, Interlink, PLUS, Visa Electron, the Winged V design, the Dove design and the Bands DesignBlue, White & Gold. We also own numerous other valuable trademarks and designs covering various brands, products, programs and services. Through agreements with our clients, we authorize and monitor the use of our trademarks in connection with their participation in our payments network.
In addition, we own a number of patents and patent applications relating to payments solutions, transaction processing, security systems and other matters.
We compete in the global payment marketplace against all forms of payment, including paper-based forms (principally cash and checks), card-based payments (including credit, charge, debit, ATM, prepaid, private-label and other types of general-purpose and limited-use cards) and other electronic payments (including wire transfers, electronic benefits transfers, automatic clearing house, or ACH, payments and electronic data interchange).
Within the general purpose payment card industry, we face substantial and intense competition worldwide in the provision of payments services to financial institution clients and their cardholder merchants. The leading global card brands in the general purpose payment card industry are Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club. Other general-purpose card brands are more concentrated in specific geographic regions, such as JCB in Japan and Discover in the United States. In certain countries, our competitors have leading positions, such as China UnionPay in China, which is the sole domestic inter-bank bankcard processor and operates the sole domestic bankcard acceptance mark in China due to local regulation. We also compete against private-label cards, which can generally be used to make purchases solely at the sponsoring retail store, gasoline retailer or other merchant.
In the debit card market segment, Visa and MasterCard are the primary global brands. In addition, our Interlink and Visa Electron brands compete with Maestro, owned by MasterCard, and various regional and country-specific debit network brands. In addition to our PLUS brand, the primary cash access card brands are Cirrus, owned by MasterCard, and many of the online debit network brands referenced above. In many countries, local debit brands are the primary brands, and our brands are used primarily to enable cross-border transactions, which typically constitute a small portion of overall transaction volume.
We increasingly face competition from emerging players in the payment space, many of which are non-financial institution networks that have departed from the more traditional bank-centric business model. The emergence of these competitive networks has primarily been via the online channel with a focus on eCommerce and/or mobile technologies.
Based on payments volume, total volume, number of transactions and number of cards in circulation, Visa is the largest retail electronic payments network in the world. The following chart compares our network with those of our major general-purpose payment network competitors for calendar year 2009:
Sources: MasterCard, American Express, JCB and Diners Club data sourced from The Nilson Report issue 946 (April 2010). Includes all consumer and commercial credit, debit and prepaid cards. Currency figures are in U.S. dollars. MasterCard excludes Maestro and Cirrus figures. American Express includes figures for third party issuers. JCB figures are for April 2008 through March 2009 and include third party issuers. Transactions are estimates. Diners Club figures are for the 12 months ended November 30, 2009. Discover data sourced from The Nilson Report issue 942 (February 2010)U.S. data only and includes business from third party issuers.
For more information on the concentration of our operating revenues and other financial information, see Note 15Enterprise-wide Disclosures and Concentration of Business to our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this report.
Working Capital Requirements
Payments settlement due from and due to issuing and acquiring clients generally represents our most consistent and substantial liquidity requirement, arising primarily from the payments settlement of certain credit and debit transactions and the timing of payments settlement between financial institution clients with settlement currencies other than the U.S. dollar. These settlement receivables and payables generally remain outstanding for one to two business days, consistent with standard market conventions for domestic transactions and foreign currency transactions. We maintain working capital sufficient to enable uninterrupted daily settlement. During fiscal 2010, we funded average daily net settlement receivable balances of $129 million, with the highest daily balance being $386 million.
We do not expect to experience any pronounced seasonality in our business. No individual quarter of fiscal 2010 or fiscal 2009 accounted for more than 30% of our fiscal 2010 or fiscal 2009 operating revenues.
At September 30, 2010, we employed approximately 6,800 persons worldwide, including CyberSource. We consider our relationships with our employees to be good.
Additional Information and SEC Reports
Our corporate Internet address is http://www.corporate.visa.com. On our investor relations page, accessible through our corporate website and at http://investor.visa.com, we make available, free of charge our annual reports on Forms 10-K, our quarterly reports on Forms 10-Q, our current reports on Forms 8-K and amendments to those reports as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with, or furnished to, the SEC. The information contained on our website, including the information contained on our investor relations website, is not incorporated by reference into this report or any other report filed with, or furnished to, the SEC.
Regulations that prohibit us from requiring our customers to use only our network may decrease the number of transactions we process, materially and adversely affecting our financial condition, revenues, results of operations, prospects for future growth and overall business.
We have agreements with some issuers under which they agree to issue certain payment cards that use only the Visa network or receive incentives if they do so. In addition, certain issuers of some debit products choose to include only the Visa network. We refer to these various practices as network exclusivity. In addition, certain network or issuer rules or practices may be interpreted as limiting the routing options of merchants when multiple debit networks co-reside on Visa debit cards. Increased regulatory scrutiny in the United States has already resulted in laws that will limit our and issuers ability to impose rules for, or choose various forms of, network exclusivity and preferred routing in the debit area. SeeThe U.S. Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act may have a material adverse impact on our revenues, our prospects for future growth and our overall business. These restrictions and future regulations like them in the United States and elsewhere have the potential to cause a material decrease in the number of transactions we process. In order to retain that transaction volume, we might have to reduce the fees we charge to issuers or acquirers, or we might have to increase the payments and other incentives we provide to issuers or acquirers or directly to merchants. Any of these eventualities could have a material, adverse affect on our financial condition, revenues, results of operations, prospects for future growth and overall business.
Interchange reimbursement fees and related practices have been receiving significant legal and regulatory scrutiny worldwide, and the resulting regulations may have a material adverse impact on our financial condition, revenues, results of operations, prospects for future growth and overall business.
Interchange represents a transfer of value between the financial institutions participating in a payments network such as ours. In connection with transactions initiated with cards in our payments system, interchange reimbursement fees are typically paid to issuers, the financial institutions that issue Visa cards to cardholders. They are typically paid by acquirers, the financial institutions that offer Visa network connectivity and payments acceptance services to merchants. We refer to a system like ours, in which a payment network intermediates between the issuer and the acquirer, as an open-loop system.
We generally do not receive any portion of interchange reimbursement fees. They are, however, a factor on which we compete with other payments providers and therefore an important determinant of the volume of transactions we process over our network. Consequently, changes to these fees can have a substantial impact on our revenues. We have historically set default interchange reimbursement fees in the United States and other countries. However, in certain jurisdictions, interchange rates and related practices are subject to increased government regulation. Increased regulatory scrutiny in the United States has already resulted in limitations on our ability to establish default interchange rates in the debit area. SeeThe U.S. Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act may have a material adverse impact on our revenues, our prospects for future growth and our overall business. In addition, interchange rates have become subject to increased scrutiny elsewhere, and regulatory authorities and central banks in a number of jurisdictions have reviewed or are reviewing them. These include Australia, Canada, Brazil and South Africa.
If we cannot set default interchange rates at optimal levels, issuers and acquirers may find our payments system unattractive. This could materially lower overall transaction volumes. It could also materially increase the attraction of closed-loop payments systemsthose with direct connections to both merchants and consumersand other forms of payment. In addition, issuers could begin to charge higher fees to consumers. This would make our card programs less desirable and reduce our transaction volumes and profitability. Acquirers could elect to charge higher discount rates to merchants, regardless of the level of Visa interchange, leading merchants not to accept cards for payment or to steer Visa cardholders to alternate payment systems. In addition, issuers and acquirers could attempt to decrease the expense of their card programs by seeking incentives from us or a reduction in the fees that we charge. Any of the foregoing could have a substantial, adverse impact on our financial condition, revenues, results of operations, prospects for future growth and overall business.
The U.S. Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act may have a material, adverse effect on our financial condition, revenues, results of operations, prospects for future growth and overall business.
The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act recently enacted in the United States includes provisions that will regulate the selection of payment networks by issuers and the routing of debit transactions by retailers. This may result in the routing of debit transactions onto competing networks, potentially reducing the processing fees we earn on debit transactions.
The legislation also establishes regulation and oversight by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of debit interchange rates and certain other network industry practices. In addition, the Federal Reserve now has the power to regulate network fees to the extent necessary to prevent evasion of the new rules on interchange rates.
The act also created a new independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau within the Federal Reserve System. The bureau will assume responsibility for most federal consumer protection laws in the area of financial services and will have new authorities with respect to consumer issues. The bureaus actions may make payment card transactions less attractive to card issuers. This could result in a reduction in our payments volume and revenues.
The new legislation may have a material, adverse impact on our financial condition, revenues, results of operations, prospects for future growth and overall business. Failure by our clients or by us successfully to adjust our strategies to compete in the new environment would increase this impact.
New regulations in one jurisdiction or of one product segment may lead to new regulations in other jurisdictions or of other products.
Regulators around the world increasingly look at each others approaches to the regulation of the payments industry. Consequently, a development in any one country, state or region may influence regulatory approaches in other countries, states or regions. This includes the recent U.S. Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Similarly, new laws and regulations in a country, state or region involving one product segment may cause lawmakers there to extend the regulations to another product. For example, regulations like those affecting debit payments could eventually spread to regulate credit.
As a result, the risks created by any one new law or regulation are magnified by the potential they have to be replicated, affecting our business in another place or involving another product segment. These include matters like interchange rates, network exclusivity and preferred routing agreements. Conversely, if widely varying regulations come into existence worldwide, we may have difficulty adjusting our products, services, fees and other important aspects of our business, with the same effect. Either of these eventualities could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Government actions may prevent us from competing effectively against providers of domestic payments services in certain countries, materially and adversely affecting our ability to maintain or increase our revenues.
Governments in certain countries provide resources or protection to selected national payment card and processing providers. These governments may take this action in order to support these providers. They may also take this action to keep us from entering these countries, to force us to leave, or to restrict substantially our activities there. For example, China, a significant emerging market, has increasingly tightened its rules requiring use of its payment system for domestic transactions. Additionally, governments in certain countries are considering, or may consider, regulatory requirements that mandate processing of domestic payments entirely in that country. This would prevent us from utilizing our global processing capabilities for our clients. Our efforts to effect change in these countries may not succeed. This could adversely affect our ability to maintain or increase our revenues and extend our global brands.
Regulation in the areas of consumer privacy and data use and security could decrease the number of payment cards issued, our payments volume and our revenues.
Recently, privacy, data use and security have received heightened legislative and regulatory focus in the United States (at the federal and state level) and in other countries. For example, in many jurisdictions consumers must be notified in the event of a data breach. These measures may materially increase our costs and our clients costs. They may also decrease the number of our cards our clients issue. This would materially and adversely affect our profitability. In addition, our failure, or the failure of our clients, to comply with these laws and regulations could result in fines, sanctions, litigation and damage to our global reputation and our brands.
If government regulators determine that we are a systemically important payments system, we may have to change our settlement procedures or other operations, making it costlier to operate our business and reducing our operational flexibility.
A number of international initiatives are underway to maintain financial stability by strengthening financial infrastructure. The Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems of the central banks of the Group of Ten countries has developed a set of core principles for systemically important payment systems. Government regulators in the United States or elsewhere may determine that we are a
systemically important payments system and impose settlement risk-management requirements on us. These could include new settlement procedures or other operational rules to address credit and operational risks. They could also include new criteria for member participation and merchant access to our payments system. Any of these developments could increase the cost of operating our business.
Recent increased global regulatory focus on the payments industry may result in costly new compliance burdens on our clients and on us, leading to increased costs and decreased payments volume and revenues.
Regulation of the payments industry has increased significantly in recent years. Examples include:
Complying with these and other regulations may increase our costs. Similarly, the impact of such regulations on our clients may reduce the volume of payments we process. Moreover, such regulations could limit the types of products and services that we offer, the countries in which our cards are used and the types of cardholders and merchants who can obtain or accept our cards. Any of these occurrences could materially and adversely affect our business, prospects for future growth, financial condition and results of operations.
A finding of liability in the interchange litigation may result in substantial damages.
Since 2005, approximately 55 class actions and individual complaints have been filed on behalf of merchants against us, MasterCard and/or other defendants, including certain financial institutions that issue Visa-branded payment cards and acquire Visa-branded payment transactions in the U.S. We refer to this as the interchange litigation. Among other antitrust allegations, the plaintiffs allege that
Visas setting of default interchange rates violated federal and state antitrust laws. The lawsuits have been transferred to a multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
The plaintiffs in the interchange litigation seek damages for alleged overcharges in merchant discount fees as well as injunctive and other relief. The consolidated class action complaint alleges that the plaintiffs estimate that damages will range in the tens of billions of dollars. Because these lawsuits were brought under the U.S. federal antitrust laws, any actual damages will be trebled, and we may be subject to joint and several liability among the defendants if liability is established. This could significantly magnify the effect of any adverse judgment.
The interchange litigation is part of the covered litigation that our retrospective responsibility plan is intended to address. The retrospective responsibility plan may not, however, adequately insulate us from the impact of settlements of, or judgments in, the interchange litigation. Failure to successfully defend or settle the interchange litigation would result in liability that, to the extent not covered by our retrospective responsibility plan, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, or, in certain circumstances, even cause us to become insolvent. In addition, even if our retrospective responsibility plan covered our direct financial exposure, settlements or judgments involving the multidistrict litigation could include restrictions on our ability to conduct business, which could increase our cost of doing business and limit our prospects for future growth. SeeOur retrospective responsibility plan may not adequately insulate us from the impact of settlements and judgments in the covered litigation and will not insulate us from other pending or future litigation, and See Note 22Legal Matters to our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 in this report.
Our retrospective responsibility plan may not adequately insulate us from the impact of settlements or final judgments.
Our retrospective responsibility plan addresses monetary liabilities from settlements of, or final judgments in, the covered litigation, which is described in Note 22Legal Matters to our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this report. The retrospective responsibility plan consists of several related mechanisms to fund settlements or judgments in the covered litigation. These include an escrow account funded with a portion of the net proceeds of our initial public offering and potential subsequent offerings of our shares of class A common stock (or deposits of cash to the escrow account in lieu of such offerings), a loss-sharing agreement and a judgment-sharing agreement. In addition, our U.S. members are obligated to indemnify us pursuant to Visa U.S.A.s certificate of incorporation and bylaws and in accordance with their membership agreements. These mechanisms are unique and complicated, and if we cannot use one or more of them, we could have difficulty funding the payment of a settlement or final judgment against us in a covered litigation. This could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, or, in certain circumstances, even cause us to become insolvent.
The retrospective responsibility plan only addresses the covered litigation. The plan does not cover other pending litigation or any litigation that we may face in the future, except for cases that include claims for damages relating to the period prior to our initial public offering that are transferred for pre-trial proceedings or otherwise included in the interchange litigation. In addition, our retrospective responsibility plan covers only the potential monetary liability from settlements of, or judgments in, the covered litigation. Non-monetary settlement terms and judgments in the covered litigation may require us to modify the way we do business in the future. This could adversely affect our revenues, increase our expenses and/or limit our prospects for growth. Therefore, even if our retrospective responsibility plan adequately safeguards us from the monetary impact of settlements of, and judgments in, the covered litigation, it may not insulate us from all potential adverse consequences of them.
If the settlements of our currency conversion cases do not become final and we are unsuccessful in any of the various lawsuits relating to Visa U.S.A.s and Visa Internationals currency conversion practices, our business may be materially and adversely affected.
Visa U.S.A. and Visa International are defendants in several state and federal lawsuits alleging that their currency conversion practices are or were deceptive, anti-competitive or otherwise unlawful.
On July 20, 2006, and September 14, 2006, Visa U.S.A. and Visa International entered into agreements to settle or otherwise dispose of these matters. Under the settlement agreements, Visa U.S.A. paid approximately $100 million as part of the defendants settlement fund for the federal actions and approximately $19 million to fund settlement of the state cases. Although the federal court has granted final approval of the settlement agreements, the settlements are subject to resolution of any appeals. If we are unsuccessful in any appellate proceeding, all of the agreements resolving the federal and state actions will terminate. If that occurs and we are unsuccessful in defending against some or all of these lawsuits on the merits, we may have to pay restitution, damages or both, and we may be required to modify our currency conversion practices. The potential amount of damages, restitution or both could be substantial. In addition, although we have substantially changed the practices at issue in these litigations, court-ordered changes to our currency conversion and cross-border transaction practices could materially and adversely affect our business. See Note 22Legal Matters to our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 in this report.
If we are found liable in certain other pending or future lawsuits, we may have to pay substantial damages or change our business practices or pricing structure, which may have a material, adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Like many large companies, we are a defendant in a number of civil actions and investigations alleging violations of competition/antitrust law, securities law, consumer protection law, or intellectual property law, among others. These lawsuits and investigations have been initiated by a wide variety of parties, including the U.S. Department of Justice, or the DOJ, U.S. state attorneys general, merchants, and consumers. Examples of such claims are described more fully in Note 22Legal Matters to our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 in this report. Some lawsuits involve complex claims that are subject to substantial uncertainties and unspecified damages; therefore, we cannot ascertain the probability of loss or estimate the damages. Accordingly, we have not established allowances for such legal proceedings.
In the United States, private plaintiffs often seek class action certification in cases against us. This is particularly so in cases involving merchants and consumers, due to the size and scope of our business. If we are found liable in a large class action lawsuit, monetary damages could be significant.
If we are unsuccessful in our defense against any material current or future proceedings, we may have to pay substantial damages, limit the fees we charge or change other business practices. This could limit our payments volume and result in a material and adverse effect on our revenues, results of operations, cash flow, financial conditions, prospects for future growth and overall business and could even cause us to become insolvent.
Limitations on our business that resulted from litigation may materially and adversely affect our revenues and profitability.
Certain limitations have been placed on our business in recent years because of litigation. For example, in October 2010, we reached a settlement, subject to court approval, with the Antitrust Division of the DOJ and a number of state attorneys general relating to their investigation of certain Visa merchant acceptance practices. Under the agreement, Visa will allow U.S. merchants to offer discounts or other incentives to steer cardholders to a particular form of payment including to a specific
network brand or to any card product, such as a non-reward Visa credit card. See Note 22Legal Matters to our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this report. The agreement does not address surcharging or the setting of default interchange, and does not preclude the DOJ from pursuing a future investigation of these or other topics. Similarly, as a result of the June 2003 settlement of a U.S. merchant lawsuit against Visa U.S.A., merchants are able to reject our consumer debit cards in the United States while still accepting other Visa-branded cards, and vice versa.
These and other limitations on our business that were the result of settlements of, or judgments in, litigation could limit the fees we charge and reduce our payments volume, which could materially and adversely affect our revenues, operating results, prospects for future growth and overall business.
Tax audits or disputes, or changes in the tax laws applicable to us, could materially increase our tax payments.
We exercise significant judgment in calculating our worldwide provision for income taxes and other tax liabilities. Although we believe our tax estimates are reasonable, many factors may decrease their accuracy. We are currently under audit by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities, and we may be subject to additional audits in the future. The tax authorities may disagree with our tax treatment of certain material items and thereby increase our tax liability. In addition, changes in existing laws, such as recent proposals for fundamental U.S. and international tax reform, may also increase our effective tax rate. A substantial increase in our tax burden could have a material, adverse effect on our financial results. See also Note 21Income Taxes to our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 in this report.
Our agreement with Visa Europe includes indemnity obligations that could expose us to significant liabilities.
Under our framework agreement with Visa Europe, we indemnify it for losses resulting from all claims outside its region arising from our or their activities and relating to our or their payments business. This obligation applies even if neither we, nor any of our related parties or agents, participated in the actions giving rise to such claims. Such an obligation could expose us to significant liabilities for activities over which we have little or no control. Our retrospective responsibility plan would not cover these liabilities.
The intense pressure we face on client pricing may materially and adversely affect our revenues and profits.
We offer incentives to clients in order to increase payments volume, enter new market segments and expand our card base. These include up-front cash payments, fee discounts, credits, performance-based incentives, marketing support payments and other support. Over the past several years, we have increased the use of incentives such as up-front cash payments and fee discounts in many countries, including the United States. In order to stay competitive, we may have to continue to increase our use of incentives. This pressure may make the provision of certain products and services less profitable or unprofitable and materially and adversely affect our operating revenues and profitability.
Pressure on client pricing also poses indirect risks, presenting the potential for the same adverse effects. If we continue to increase incentives to our clients, we will need to find ways to offset the financial impact by increasing payments volume, the amount of fee-based services we provide or both. We may not succeed in doing so, particularly in the current regulatory environment. In addition, we benefit from long-term contracts with certain clients, including those that are large contributors to our
revenue. Continued pressure on our fees could prevent us from entering into such agreements in the future on favorable terms. We may also have to modify existing agreements in order to maintain relationships or comply with regulations. Finally, increased pricing pressure enhances the importance of cost containment and productivity initiatives in areas other than those surrounding client incentives, and we may not succeed in these efforts.
Our business, financial condition and results of operations may suffer because of intense competition in our industry.
The global payments industry is intensely competitive. Our payment programs compete against all forms of payment. These include cash, checks and electronic transactions, such as wire transfers and automatic clearinghouse payments. In addition, our payment programs compete against the card-based payments systems of our competitors, such as MasterCard, American Express, Discover and private-label cards issued by merchants.
Some of our competitors may develop substantially greater financial and other resources than we have. They may offer a wider range of programs and services than we do. They may use advertising and marketing strategies that are more effective than ours, achieving broader brand recognition and merchant acceptance than we do. They may develop better security solutions or more favorable pricing arrangements than we have. They may also introduce more innovative programs and services than we provide.
Certain of our competitors operate with different business models, have different cost structures or participate selectively in different market segments. These include domestic networks in the United States, China, Canada, Australia and other countries and regions. They may ultimately prove more successful or more adaptable to new regulatory, technological and other developments. In many cases, these competitors have the support of government mandates that prohibit, limit or otherwise hinder our ability to compete for or otherwise secure transactions within those countries and regions.
Our clients can reassess their commitments to us at any time or develop their own competitive services. This is especially so given the recent U.S. Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which restricts our ability to require network exclusivity in the debit sector. Most of our larger client relationships are not exclusive. These include those with our largest clients, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. In certain circumstances, our clients may terminate these relationships, sometimes on relatively short notice, and in many cases subject to significant early termination fees. Because a significant portion of our operating revenues is concentrated among our largest clients, our operating revenues would decline significantly if we lost one or more of them. This could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations. See Note 15Enterprise-wide Disclosure and Concentration of Business to our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 in this report.
We expect there to be changes in the competitive landscape in the future. For example:
Our failure to compete effectively against any of these threats could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, revenues, results of operations, prospects for future growth and overall business.
Disintermediation from the payments value chain would harm our business.
Our position in the payments value chain underpins our business. Certain of our competitors, including American Express, Discover, private-label card networks and certain alternative payments systems, operate closed-loop payments systems, with direct connections to both merchants and consumers and no intermediaries. These competitors seek to derive competitive advantages from this business model. In addition, they have not attracted the same level of legal or regulatory scrutiny of their pricing and business practices as operators of multi-party payments systems such as ours.
We also run the risk of disintermediation by virtue of increasing bilateral agreements between entities that would rather not use a payment network for processing payments. For example, merchants could process transactions directly with issuers, or processors could process transactions directly between issuers and acquirers.
Additional consolidation in the banking industry could result in our losing business and create pressure on the fees we charge our clients, materially and adversely affecting our revenues and profitability.
The banking industry has recently undergone substantial, accelerated consolidation, which could continue. Significant ongoing consolidation in the banking industry may result in the acquisition of one or more of our largest clients by an institution with a strong relationship with one of our competitors. This could result in the acquired banks Visa business shifting to that competitor, resulting in a substantial loss of business to us. In addition, one or more of our clients could merge with or acquire one of our competitors, shifting its payments volume to that competitor. Any such transaction could have a material adverse effect on our business and prospects.
Continued consolidation in the banking industry would also reduce the overall number of our clients and potential clients and could increase the negotiating power of our remaining clients and potential clients. This consolidation could lead financial institutions to seek greater pricing discounts or other incentives with us. In addition, consolidation could prompt our existing clients to seek to renegotiate their pricing agreements with us to obtain more favorable terms. We may also be adversely affected by price compression should one of our clients absorb another financial institution and qualify for higher volume-based discounts on the combined volumes of the merged businesses. Pressure on the fees we charge our clients caused by such consolidation could materially and adversely affect our revenues, results of operations, prospects for future growth and overall business. In addition, the current economic environment could lead some clients to curtail or postpone near-term investments in growing their card portfolios, limit credit lines or take other actions that affect adversely the growth of our volume and revenue streams from these clients.
Merchants continued focus on the costs associated with payment card acceptance may result in more litigation, regulation, regulatory enforcement and incentive arrangements.
We rely in part on merchants and their relationships with our clients to maintain and expand the acceptance of our payment cards. Consolidation in the retail industry is producing a group of larger merchants that is having a significant impact on all participants in the global payments industry. Some merchants are seeking to reduce their costs associated with payment card acceptance by lobbying for new legislation and regulatory enforcement and by bringing litigation. If they continue, these efforts could materially and adversely affect our revenues, results of operations, prospects for future growth and overall business.
We, along with our clients, negotiate pricing discounts and other incentive arrangements with certain large merchants to increase acceptance and usage of our payment cards. If merchants continue to consolidate, our clients and we may have to increase the incentives provided to certain larger merchants. This could materially and adversely affect our revenues, results of operations, prospects for future growth and overall business. Competitive and regulatory pressures on pricing could make it difficult to offset the cost of these incentives.
Certain financial institutions have exclusive, or nearly exclusive, relationships with our competitors to issue payment cards, and these relationships may adversely affect our ability to maintain or increase our revenues.
Certain financial institutions have longstanding exclusive, or nearly exclusive, relationships with our competitors to issue payment cards. These relationships may make it difficult or cost-prohibitive for us to conduct material amounts of business with them in order to increase our revenues. In addition, these financial institutions may be more successful and may grow more quickly than our clients, which could put us at a competitive disadvantage.
Failure to maintain relationships with our clients and others and failure of clients to provide services on our behalf could materially and adversely affect our business.
We depend and will continue to depend significantly on relationships with our clients and on their relationships with cardholders and merchants to support our programs and services. We do not issue cards, extend credit to cardholders or determine the interest rates, if any, or other fees charged to cardholders using cards that carry our brands. Each issuer determines these and most other competitive card features. In addition, we do not generally solicit merchants to accept our cards, and we do not establish the discount rates charged to merchants for card acceptance, which rates are the responsibility of acquirers. As a result, the success of our business significantly depends on the continued success and competitiveness of our clients and the strength of our relationships with them.
In many countries outside the United States, our clients or other processors authorize, clear and settle most domestic transactions using our payment cards without involving our processing systems. In addition, we do not generally have direct relationships with merchants and do not have direct relationships with cardholders. Consequently, we depend on our close working relationships with our clients to effectively manage the processing of transactions involving our cards, Our inability to control the end-to-end processing for cards carrying our brands in these countries may put us at a competitive disadvantage by limiting our ability to ensure the quality of the services supporting our brands.
In addition, we depend on third parties to provide various services on our behalf, and to the extent that third-party vendors fail to deliver services, our business and reputation could be impaired.
Our perception in the marketplace may affect our brands and reputation, which are key assets of our business.
Our brands and their attributes are key assets of our business. The ability to attract and retain consumer cardholders and corporate clients to Visa-branded products depends highly upon the external perceptions of our company and our industry. Our business may be affected by actions taken by our clients that change the perception of our brands. From time to time, our clients may take actions that we do not believe to be in the best interests of our brands, such as creditor practices that may be subject to challenge, which may materially and adversely affect our business. Further, Visa Europe has very broad latitude to operate the Visa business in and use our brands and technology within Visa Europes region, in which we have only limited control over the operation of the Visa business. Visa Europe is not required to spend any minimum amount of money promoting or building the Visa brands
in its region, and the strength of the Visa global brands depends in part on the efforts of Visa Europe to maintain product and service recognition and quality in Europe. Finally, adverse developments with respect to our industry may also, by association, impair our reputation or result in greater regulatory or legislative scrutiny.
Unprecedented economic events in financial markets around the world have and are likely to continue to affect our clients, merchants and cardholders, resulting in a material and adverse impact on our prospects, growth, profitability, revenue and overall business.
The competitive and evolving nature of the global payments industry provides both challenges to and opportunities for the continued growth of our business. Unprecedented events that began in 2008 continue to affect the financial markets around the world. This includes decreased consumer spending, increased unemployment, deflation, increased savings, decreased debt, excess housing inventory, lowered government spending, less export activity, continued challenges in the credit environment, continued equity market volatility, additional government intervention and the uncertainty arising from new government policies. This economic turmoil has affected the economies of the United States and other mature economies in particular.
The fragility of the current situation would be exacerbated if additional negative economic developments were to arise. These could include, among other things, policy missteps, exhaustion of U.S. and other national economic stimulus packages, dramatic increases in oil prices, tax increases, economic turmoil in China, the Euro zone or Japan or a significant decline in the commercial real estate market.
Some existing clients have been placed in receivership or administration or have a significant amount of their stock owned by their governments. Many financial institutions are facing increased regulatory and governmental influence, including potential changes in laws and regulations. Many of our clients, merchants that accept our brands and cardholders who use our brands have been directly and adversely affected.
Our financial results may be negatively affected by actions taken by individual financial institutions or by governmental or regulatory bodies in response to the economic crisis. The severity of the economic environment may accelerate the timing of or increase the impact of risks to our financial performance that have historically been present. As a result, our revenue growth has been and may be negatively affected, or we may be affected, in several ways, including but not limited to the following:
In addition, regulatory bodies may seek to impose rules and price controls on certain aspects of our business and the payments industry.
Any of these developments could have a material adverse impact on our prospects, growth, revenue, profitability and overall business.
A decline in non-U.S. and cross-border activity and in multi-currency transactions could adversely affect our revenues and profitability, as we generate a significant portion of our revenue from such transactions.
We generate a significant amount of our revenues from cross-border transactions. Our clients pay us fees in connection with cross-border transactions. Some of those fees may differ if conversion from the merchants currency to the cardholders billing currency is required. Thus, revenue from processing cross-border transactions for our clients fluctuates with cross-border travel and the need for transactions to be converted into a different currency. Cross-border travel may be adversely affected by world geopolitical, economic and other conditions. These include the threat of terrorism, natural disasters, the effects of climate change and outbreaks of diseases. A decline in cross-border travel could adversely affect our revenues and profitability. A decline in the need for conversion of currencies might also adversely affect our revenues and profitability.
In addition, Visa derives revenue from foreign currency exchange activities that result from our clients settlement in different currencies. A reduction in multi-currency transactions may reduce the need for foreign currency exchange activities and adversely affect our revenues.
Transactions outside the United States represent an increasingly important part of our strategy. In order to continue to grow in those areas, we will need to ensure that we maintain consistency in the types of products we provide, the quality of our service and the viability of our brand. If we cannot employ our organizational resources effectively, we will be unable to do so.
Finally, because we are domiciled in the United States, a negative perception of the United States arising from its political or other positions could harm the perception of our company and our brand. Any of these factors could materially and adversely affect our revenues, operating results, prospects for future growth and overall business.
We risk loss or insolvency if our clients fail to fund settlement obligations we have guaranteed.
We indemnify issuers and acquirers for any settlement loss they suffer due to the failure of another issuer or acquirer to fund its daily settlement obligations. In certain instances, we may indemnify issuers or acquirers even in situations in which a transaction is not processed by our system. This indemnification creates settlement risk for us due to the difference in timing between the date of a payment transaction and the date of subsequent settlement. The term and amount of our indemnification obligations are unlimited.
Concurrent settlement failures involving more than one of our largest clients or several of our smaller clients may exceed our available financial resources, as could systemic operational failures lasting more than a single day. Any such failure could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, even if we have sufficient liquidity to cover a
settlement failure, we may be unable to recover the amount of such payment. This could expose us to significant losses, materially and adversely affecting our financial condition, results of operations and cash flow.
We estimate settlement at risk (or exposure) based on the sum of three inputs. The first is average daily volumes during the quarter multiplied by the estimated number of days to settle plus a safety margin. The second is four months of rolling average chargebacks volume. The third is the total balance for outstanding travelers cheques. Additionally, from time to time, we review and revise our risk management methodology and inputs as necessary. See Note 13Settlement Guarantee Management to our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this report.
Some of our clients are composed of groups of financial institutions. Some of these clients have elected to limit their responsibility for settlement losses arising from the failure of their constituent financial institutions in exchange for managing their constituent financial institutions in accordance with our credit risk policy. To the extent that any settlement failure resulting from a constituent financial institution exceeds the limits established by our credit risk policy, we would have to absorb the cost of such settlement failure, which could materially and adversely affect our cash flow.
If our transaction processing systems are disrupted or we cannot process transactions efficiently, the perception of our brands and our revenues or operating results could be materially and adversely affected.
Our transaction processing systems may experience service interruptions or degradation because of processing or other technology malfunction, fire, natural disasters, power loss, disruptions in long distance or local telecommunications access, fraud, terrorism, climate change or accident. Our visibility in the global payments industry may attract terrorists and hackers to conduct physical or computer-based attacks, leading to an interruption in service, increased costs or the compromise of data security. Additionally, we rely on service providers for the timely transmission of information across our global data network. If a service provider fails to provide the communications capacity or services we require because of a natural disaster, operational disruption, terrorism or any other reason, the failure could interrupt our services, adversely affect the perception of our brands reliability and materially reduce our revenues or profitability.
If we cannot keep pace with rapid technological developments to provide new and innovative payment programs and services, the use of our cards could decline, reducing our revenues and net income.
Rapid, significant technological changes are confronting the payments industry. These include developments in smart cards, eCommerce, mobile commerce and radio frequency and proximity payment devices, such as contactless cards. We cannot predict the effect of technological changes on our business. We rely in part on third parties, including some of our competitors and potential competitors, for the development of and access to new technologies. We expect that new services and technologies applicable to the payments industry will continue to emerge. These new services and technologies may be superior to, or render obsolete, the technologies we currently use in our card products and services. In addition, our ability to adopt new services and technologies that we develop may be inhibited by industry-wide standards, by resistance to change from clients or merchants or by third parties intellectual property rights. Our success will depend in part on our ability to develop new technologies and adapt to technological changes and evolving industry standards.
Account data breaches involving card data stored by third parties or by us could adversely affect our reputation and revenues.
Our clients, merchants, others and we store cardholder account information in connection with our payment cards. In addition, our clients may use third-party processors to process transactions
generated by cards carrying our brands. Breach of the systems storing sensitive cardholder data and account information could lead to fraudulent activity involving Visa-branded cards, to reputational damage and to claims against us. If we are sued in connection with any data security breach, we could be involved in protracted litigation. If unsuccessful in defending such lawsuits, we may have to pay damages or change our business practices or pricing structure, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our revenues and profitability. In addition, any reputational damage resulting from an account data breach at one or more of our clients, merchants or other third parties could decrease the use and acceptance of our cards, which could have a material adverse impact on our payments volume, revenues and future growth prospects. Finally, any data security breach could result in additional regulation, which could materially increase our costs.
An increase in fraudulent and other illegal activity involving our cards could lead to reputational damage to our brands and reduce the use and acceptance of our cards.
Criminals are using increasingly sophisticated methods to capture cardholder account information. They use the information to conduct fraudulent transactions. Outsourcing and specialization of functions within the payments system are increasing. As a result, more third parties are involved in processing transactions using our cards. A rise in fraud levels involving our cards could lead to reputational damage to our brands. This could reduce the use and acceptance of our cards or lead to greater regulation, which could increase our compliance costs.
Failure to maintain interoperability between Visa Inc.s and Visa Europes authorization and clearing and settlement systems could damage the business and global perception of the Visa brands.
Before our reorganization in October 2007, Visa Europe and we shared authorization, clearing, and settlement systems. Visa Europe completed and substantially deployed its own systems in the 2010 fiscal year. As a result, Visa Europe and we will have to ensure that the two systems can process every transaction, regardless of where it originates. Visa Europes newly independent system operations could present challenges to our business due to the heightened difficulty of maintaining the interoperability of our respective systems as they diverge over time. Failure to authorize or clear and settle transactions quickly and accurately could impair the global perception of the Visa brands.
Risks Related to our Structure and Organization
We have little ability to control Visa Europes operations and limited recourse if it breaches its obligations to us.
Visa Europe has very broad rights to operate the Visa business in its region under the agreement that governs our relationship. If we want to change a global rule or require Visa Europe to implement certain changes that would not have a positive return for Visa Europe and its members, then Visa Europe is not required to implement that rule or change unless we agree to pay for the implementation costs and expenses that Visa Europe and its members will incur as a consequence of the implementation.
If Visa Europe fails to meet its obligations, our remedies under this agreement are limited. We cannot terminate the agreement even upon Visa Europes material, uncured breach. Although we have a call right to acquire Visa Europe, we can exercise that right under only extremely limited circumstances.
These and other features of the licenses granted under the agreement may also raise issues concerning the characterization of the licenses for purposes of tax treatment of entry into the licenses and payments received thereunder.
In some instances, as in the case of CyberSource, Visa Europe may have the right to control the activities of newly acquired entities within Visa Europes territory. In any event, Visa Europes exclusive license rights in Europe may hinder our ability to acquire new entities or to operate them effectively.
Any inconsistency in the payment processing services and products that we can provide could negatively affect cardholders from Visa Europe using cards in the countries we serve or our cardholders using cards in Visa Europes region.
If Visa Europe makes us acquire all of its outstanding stock, we will incur substantial costs and may suffer a material and adverse effect on our operations and net income.
We have granted Visa Europe a put option requiring us to purchase all outstanding capital stock from its members if exercised. We will incur a substantial financial obligation if Visa Europe exercises this option. Visa Europe may do so at any time. We may need to obtain third-party financing in order to meet our obligation, by either borrowing funds or selling stock. An equity offering, or the payment of part of the exercise price in our stock, would dilute the ownership interests of our stockholders. We would have only 285 days to pay the exercise price. Sufficient financing might not be available to us within that time on reasonable terms. See Note 3Visa Europe to our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this report.
If Visa Europe exercises the put option, we may encounter difficulties in integrating Visa Europes business and systems into our existing operations. If we cannot do so quickly and cost-effectively, the integration could divert the time and attention of senior management, disrupt our current operations and adversely affect our results of operations. In addition, we would become subject to the many regulations of the European Union that govern the operations of Visa Europe, including any regulatory disputes.
We are required to record quarterly any change in the fair value of the put option. We record these adjustments through our consolidated statements of operations. Consequently, the adjustments affect our reported net income and earnings per share. These quarterly adjustments and their resulting impact on our reported statements of operations could be significant. The existence of these changes could adversely affect our ability to raise capital or the costs involved in raising it.
If we cannot remain organizationally effective, we will be unable to address the opportunities and challenges presented by our strategy and by the increasingly challenging competitive, economic and regulatory environment.
Since our reorganization in October 2007, we have increasingly centralized our management and operations. For us to succeed, we must effectively integrate our operations, actively work to ensure consistency throughout our organization, and avoid U.S.-centric thinking. If we fail to do so, we may be unable to expand as rapidly as we plan, and the results of our expansion may be unsatisfactory.
In addition, the current competitive, economic and regulatory environment will require our organization to adapt rapidly and nimbly to new opportunities and challenges. We will be unable to do so if we do not make important decisions quickly enough, define our appetite for risk specifically enough, implement new governance, managerial and organizational processes smoothly enough and communicate roles and responsibilities clearly enough.
We may be unable to attract and retain key management and other key employees.
Our employees, particularly our key management, are vital to our success and difficult to replace. We may be unable to retain them or to attract other highly qualified employees, particularly if we do not offer employment terms competitive with the rest of the market. Failure to attract and retain highly qualified employees, or failure to develop and implement a viable succession plan, could result in inadequate depth of institutional knowledge or skill sets, adversely affecting our business.
Acquisitions or strategic investments could disrupt our business and harm our financial condition and results of operations.
Although we may continue to make strategic acquisitions or investments in complementary businesses, products or technologies, we may be unable to successfully finance, partner with or integrate them. The integration of the recently acquired CyberSource Corporation will take time and resources that would otherwise have been available for other acquisitions. We will be subject to the terms of the exclusive license granted to Visa Europe in most acquisitions and major investments that involve countries in the Visa Europe territory. Regulatory constraints, particularly competition regulations, may affect the extent to which we can maximize the value of acquisitions or investments.
Furthermore, the integration of any acquisition or investment may divert managements time and resources from our core business and disrupt our operations. We may spend time and money on projects that do not increase our revenues. Moreover, our cash reserves contract to the extent we pay the purchase price of any acquisition or investment in cash. Although we periodically evaluate potential acquisitions of and investments in businesses, products and technologies, and anticipate continuing to make these evaluations, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to execute and integrate any such acquisitions and investments.
Future sales of our class A common stock, or the expiration or waiver of transfer restrictions on our class B and C common stock, could result in dilution to holders of shares of our existing class A common stock, adversely affecting their rights and depressing the market price of our class A common stock.
The market price and voting power of our class A common stock could decline because of increases in the number of such shares outstanding. The market price of our class A common stock may also suffer from the perception that such an increase could occur, such as upon the issuance or conversion of securities convertible to shares of our class A common stock. Specifically, on March 25, 2011, all of our restricted shares of class C common stock will become transferable at once.
If funds are released from escrow after the resolution of the litigation covered by our retrospective responsibility plan, the value of our class A common stock will be diluted.
Under our retrospective responsibility plan, funds still in the escrow account after the resolution of all covered litigation will be released back to us. At that time, each share of class B common stock will become convertible into an increased number of shares of class A common stock, benefitting the holders of class B common stock. This in turn will result in dilution of the interest in Visa Inc. held by the holders of class A common stock. The amount of this dilution will depend on the amount, if any, of the funds released from the escrow account and the market price of our class A common stock near the time the funds are released.
Shares of Class A common stock acquired by Visa members and certain affiliates and competitors convert automatically into shares of class C common stock, which have limited voting rights and may be subject to restrictions on transfer.
Shares of class A common stock acquired by a Visa member, an affiliate of a Visa member or any person that is a competitor or its affiliate, in each case to the extent acting as a principal investor, convert automatically into shares of class C common stock. Some shares of class C common stock cannot be transferred until March 25, 2011. In addition, holders of shares of our class C common stock do not have the right to vote on certain matters, including the election of directors.
Holders of our shares of our class B and C common stock have voting rights concerning certain significant corporate transactions, and their interests in our business may be different from those of holders of our class A common stock.
Although their voting rights are limited, holders of shares of our class B and C common stock can vote on certain significant transactions. These include a proposed consolidation or merger, a decision to exit our core payments business and any other vote required by law. The holders of these shares may not have the same incentive to approve a corporate action that may be favorable to the holders of class A common stock, and their interests may otherwise conflict with those of the holders of class A common stock.
Anti-takeover provisions in our governing documents and Delaware law could delay or prevent entirely a takeover attempt or a change in control.
Provisions contained in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, our bylaws and Delaware law could delay or prevent a merger or acquisition that our stockholders consider favorable. For instance, except for limited exceptions, no person may beneficially own more than 15% of our class A common stock (or 15% of our total outstanding common stock on an as-converted basis), unless our board of directors approves the acquisition of such shares in advance. In addition, except for common stock issued to a member in connection with our reorganization or shares issuable on conversion of such common stock, shares held by a competitor or an affiliate of a competitor may not exceed 5% of our total outstanding shares on an as-converted basis.
Our ability to pay regular dividends to holders of our common stock in the future is subject to the discretion of our board of directors and will be limited by our ability to generate sufficient earnings and cash flows.
Since August 2008, we have paid cash dividends quarterly on our class A, B and C common stock. Any future payment of dividends will depend upon our ability to generate earnings and cash flows. However, sufficient cash may not be available to pay such dividends. Payment of future dividends, if any, would be at the discretion of our board of directors after taking into account various factors, including our financial condition, operating results, capital requirements, covenants in our debt instruments and other factors that our board of directors deems relevant. If, because of these factors, we cannot generate sufficient earnings and cash flows from our business, we may be unable to make payments of dividends of our common stock. Furthermore, no dividend may be declared or paid on any class or series of common stock unless an equivalent dividend is contemporaneously declared and paid on each other class of common stock.
At September 30, 2010, we owned and leased approximately 2.8 million square feet of office and processing center space in 32 countries around the world, of which approximately 1.9 million square feet are owned and the remaining 890,000 square feet are leased. Our corporate headquarters is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and consists of four buildings that we own, totaling 944,000 square feet. We also own a 164,000 square foot office building in Miami.
In addition, we operate three primary processing centers. We own a processing center and an adjacent office facility in two locations, Colorado and Virginia, totaling 268,000 square feet and 482,000 square feet, respectively. We also lease a 13,000 square foot facility in Japan.
We believe that these facilities are suitable and adequate to support our business needs.
Refer to Note 22Legal Matters to our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 in this report.
Price Range of Common Stock
Our class A common stock has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol V since March 19, 2008. At September 30, 2010, the Company had 380 stockholders of record of its class A common stock. The following table sets forth the intra-day high and low sale prices for our class A common stock in each of our last eight fiscal quarters:
There is currently no established public trading market for our class B or class C common stock. There were approximately 1,727 and 1,558 holders of record of our class B common stock and class C common stock, respectively, as of September 30, 2010.
Dividend Declaration and Policy
During the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, we paid the following quarterly cash dividends per share of our class A common stock (determined in the case of class B and C common stock, on an as-converted basis) to all holders of record of our class A, B and C common stock.
In addition, on October 20, 2010, our board of directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.15 per share of class A common stock (determined in the case of class B and C common stock, on an as-converted basis) payable on December 7, 2010 to holders of record as of November 19, 2010 of our class A, B and C common stock.
Subject to legally available funds, we intend to pay quarterly cash dividends on our outstanding class A, B and C common stock in the future. However, the declaration and payment of future dividends is at the sole discretion of our board of directors after taking into account various factors, including our financial condition, settlement guarantees, operating results, available cash and current and anticipated cash needs. Prior to our IPO, we did not pay any cash dividends on our common stock.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
The table below sets forth the information with respect to purchases of the Companys common stock made by or on behalf of the Company during the quarter ended September 30, 2010.
EQUITY COMPENSATION PLAN INFORMATION
The table below presents information as of September 30, 2010 for the Visa 2007 Equity Incentive Compensation Plan, or the EIP, which was approved by our stockholders. We do not have any equity compensation plans that have not been approved by our stockholders, except as noted in note (2) in the table below. For a description of the awards issued under the EIP, see Note 18Share-based Compensation to our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this report.
The following table presents selected Visa Inc. financial data for fiscal 2010, 2009 and 2008 and selected Visa U.S.A. financial data for fiscal 2007 and 2006. During the reorganization in October 2007, Visa U.S.A., the accounting acquirer, Visa International, Visa Canada and Inovant became direct or indirect subsidiaries of Visa Inc. The operating results of the acquired interests are included in the consolidated financial results of Visa Inc. beginning October 1, 2007. The data below should be read in conjunction with Item 7Managements Discussion and Analysis and Results of Operations and the Visa Inc. fiscal 2010 consolidated financial statements and notes included in Item 8 of this report.
Selected Financial Data
This managements discussion and analysis provides a review of the results of operations, financial condition and the liquidity and capital resources of Visa Inc. and its subsidiaries (Visa, we, our and the Company) on a historical basis and outlines the factors that have affected recent earnings, as well as those factors that may affect future earnings. The following discussion and analysis should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and related notes included in Item 8.
Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, banks and governments around the world, enabling them to use digital currency instead of cash and checks. We provide financial institutions with payment processing platforms that encompass consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payments. We facilitate global commerce through the transfer of value and information among financial institutions, merchants, consumers, businesses and government entities. Each of these constituencies has played a key role in the ongoing worldwide migration from paper-based to electronic forms of payment, and we believe that this transformation continues to yield significant growth opportunities, particularly outside the United States. We continue to explore additional opportunities to enhance our competitive position by expanding the scope of payment services to benefit our existing clients and to position Visa to serve more and different constituencies.
Overall economic conditions and regulatory environment. Our business is affected by overall economic conditions and consumer spending. We continue to monitor the progress of the global economic recovery, which has shown signs of slow but gradual improvement. We expect consumer and commercial spending, and our payments volume to continue to increase in the near term if the economic recovery maintains momentum.
The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act enacted in the U.S. in July 2010 includes provisions that will establish regulation and oversight of debit interchange rates and certain other network industry practices in the U.S. While the legislation does not directly regulate the network fees we charge, except to ensure that fees are not used to evade the new regulation of interchange rates, it may give retailers greater ability to route debit transactions onto competitive networks, which can reduce the processing fees we currently earn on debit transactions. Because the implementation details for this new legislation will be determined over the next year, the expected impact on our consolidated financial statements is unknown at this time. However, we expect to see the impacts of the legislation beginning in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011.
Other regulatory measures previously enacted in the U.S. became effective in the second quarter of fiscal 2010. These regulatory measures primarily impacted our clients, but have not resulted in any notable impact to our payments volumes.
We continue to believe that our broad platform of payment products provides substantial value to both retailers and consumers, and that the continuing worldwide secular shift to digital currency, will buffer the impacts of our current regulatory environment, as reflected in our overall payments volume growth, and in particular payments volume growth outside the U.S.
Funding of the litigation escrow account. During May 2010 and subsequently in October 2010, after our fiscal year end, we deposited $500 million and $800 million, respectively, into the escrow account previously established under the retrospective responsibility plan, or the plan. Under the terms of the plan, when Visa funds the escrow account, the shares of class B common stock retained by our
U.S. clients and their affiliates are subject to dilution through an adjustment to the conversion rate of the shares of class B common stock to shares of class A common stock. On an as-converted basis, funding of the escrow account had the effect of our repurchasing approximately 7 million shares and 11 million shares of class A common stock, respectively. See Note 4Retrospective Responsibility Plan to our consolidated financial statements.
Share repurchase plan. In October 2009, our board of directors authorized a $1.0 billion share repurchase plan. As of September 30, 2010, we have drawn on the entire $1.0 billion authorized amount by repurchasing a total of 12.9 million shares of our class A common stock at an average price of $77.48 per share. In October 2010, subsequent to our fiscal year end, our board of directors authorized a second $1.0 billion share repurchase plan, which will be in place through September 30, 2011, subject to extension or expansion at the determination of our board of directors. See the Liquidity and Capital Resources section for further discussion.
Expansion of our eCommerce capabilities. On July 21, 2010, we completed our acquisition of CyberSource Corporation, a leading provider of electronic payment, risk management and payment security solutions to online merchants, at a price of $26.00 per share. The total purchase consideration was approximately $2.0 billion, paid with cash on hand. The acquisition of CyberSource will expand our online payment, fraud and security management capabilities and is expected to accelerate our growth in the eCommerce category. The results of CyberSource are included in our results from the acquisition date. See Note 6CyberSource Acquisition to our consolidated financial statements.
Nominal payments volume and transaction counts. We believe that payments volume and processed transactions are key drivers of our business. Payments volume is the basis for service revenues and processed transactions are the basis for data processing revenues. The growth in nominal payments volume in fiscal 2010 compared to fiscal 2009, in particular credit and debit, was primarily driven by growth outside the U.S. Comparing fiscal 2009 with fiscal 2008, nominal payments volume declined in credit and commercial products, which was offset by growth in debit resulting in minimal year-over-year nominal payments volume impact.
The number of processed transactions continues to increase reflecting the continued shift to electronic payments globally.
The payments volume and processed transactions tables presented below do not include CyberSource volumes and transactions. CyberSource activities primarily contribute to our data processing revenues, which is discussed below in Results of Operations.
This table sets forth nominal product payments volumes for the periods presented in nominal dollars(1):
This table sets forth transaction volumes processed by our VisaNet system during the following fiscal periods:
Results of Operations
Our operating revenues are primarily generated from payments volume on Visa-branded cards for goods and services, as well as the number, size and type of transactions processed on our VisaNet system. We do not earn revenues from, or bear credit risk with respect to, interest and fees paid by cardholders on Visa-branded cards. Our issuing clients have the responsibility for issuing cards and determining interest rates and fees paid by cardholders, and most other competitive card features. We do not earn revenues from the fees that merchants are charged for card acceptance, including the merchant discount rate. Our acquiring clients, which are generally responsible for soliciting merchants, establish and earn these fees.
The following sets forth the components of our operating revenues:
Service revenues are earned from clients for their participation in card programs carrying marks of the Visa brand. Service revenues are primarily assessed using a calculation of pricing applied to the prior quarters payments volume.
Data processing revenues are earned for authorization, clearing, settlement, transaction processing services and other maintenance and support services that facilitate transaction and information processing among our clients globally and Visa Europe. Data processing revenues are primarily based on information we accumulate from VisaNet, our secure, centralized, global processing platform, which provides transaction processing services linking issuers and acquirers. Data processing revenues also include revenues earned for transactions processed by CyberSources online payment gateway.
International transaction revenues are assessed to clients on transactions where the cardholders issuer country is different from the merchants country. International transaction revenues are generally driven by cross-border payments volume, which includes single currency transactions, and currency conversion activities for transactions involving more than one currency.
Other revenues consist primarily of revenues earned from Visa Europe in connection with the Visa Europe Framework Agreement and fees from cardholder services and licensing and certification. Other revenues also include optional service or product enhancements, such as extended cardholder protection and concierge services.
Volume and support incentives represent contracts with clients, merchants and other business partners for various programs designed to build payments volume and to increase product acceptance. These incentives are accounted for as reductions to operating revenues.
Personnel includes salaries, stock-based compensation, incentives, fringe benefits and contractor expense.
Network, EDP and communications primarily represents expenses for the operation of our electronic payments network, including maintenance, equipment rental and fees for other data processing services.
Advertising, marketing and promotion includes expenses associated with advertising and marketing campaigns, sponsorships and other related promotions to promote the Visa brand.
Professional and consulting fees consists of fees for consulting, legal and other professional services.
Depreciation and amortization includes depreciation expenses of properties and equipment, as well as amortization of purchased and internally developed software. Also included in this amount are depreciation and amortization of the incremental basis in technology and other assets acquired in our October 2007 reorganization, and the incremental basis in technology and other assets, including finite-lived intangible assets, acquired in our July 2010 acquisition of CyberSource. The incremental basis in technology and other assets acquired in our October 2007 reorganization was fully depreciated and amortized at September 30, 2010.
Administrative and other primarily consists of facilities costs, foreign exchange gains and losses and other corporate and overhead expenses in support of our business.
Litigation provision is an estimate of litigation expense and is based on managements understanding of our litigation profile, the specifics of the case, advice of counsel to the extent appropriate and managements best estimate of incurred loss at the balance sheet dates.
Other Income (Expense)
Interest expense primarily includes accretion associated with litigation settlements to be paid over periods longer than one year and interest incurred on outstanding debt.
Investment income, net represents returns on our fixed-income securities and other investments. Investment income also includes cash dividends received from other cost method investments.
Other non-operating income primarily relates to the change in the fair value of the Visa Europe put option. Also included in this amount is the change in the fair value of the liability under the Framework Agreement with Visa Europe, which was fully discharged in October 2008.
Visa Inc. Fiscal 2010, 2009 and 2008
The following table sets forth our operating revenues earned in the United States, in the rest of the world and from Visa Europe. Revenues earned from Visa Europe are a result of our contractual arrangement with Visa Europe, as governed by the Framework Agreement that provides for trademark and technology licenses and bilateral services.
Growth in operating revenues primarily reflects an increase in nominal payments volume, continued growth of processed transactions and the impact of pricing modifications made on various services as a result of innovations in our product line and improvements in our service model. The benefits of pricing modifications are partially offset by increases to volume and support incentives. We continue to monitor the progress of nominal payments volume growth as part of the overall global economic recovery, and evaluate the potential impacts to operating revenues under our current regulatory environment. We may adjust our pricing strategy to ensure that it competitively aligns with the value and growth opportunities provided to our clients.
Revenues from processing cross-border transactions for our clients fluctuate with cross-border travel and the extent to which Visa-branded products are utilized for travel purposes. Cross-border transactions have shown signs of improvement in all geographies during fiscal 2010.
Our operating revenues, primarily service revenues and international transaction revenues, are impacted by the overall strengthening or weakening of the U.S. dollar as payments volume and related revenues denominated in local or regional currencies are converted to U.S. dollars. The effect of the general weakening of the U.S. dollar during fiscal 2010 was moderated by our hedging activities, resulting in a net 1% increase in total operating revenues. In comparison, the general strengthening of the U.S. dollar during fiscal 2009, net against the impact from our hedging activities, resulted in a 3% decline in total operating revenues. As we are substantially hedged through fiscal 2011, we do not expect any significant impact from currency fluctuations next year.
The following table sets forth the components of our total operating revenues:
Service revenues increased in fiscal 2009 compared to fiscal 2008 primarily due to strategic pricing modifications implemented in the second half of fiscal 2009, combined with modest growth of 1% in nominal global payments volume.
Data processing revenues increased in fiscal 2009 due to 8% growth in the number of transactions processed during the year, combined with other strategic pricing modifications.
International transaction revenues increased in fiscal 2009 despite an 11% decline in cross-border nominal payments volume, primarily due to strategic pricing modifications made after fiscal 2008.
Other revenues increased in fiscal 2009 primarily due to growth in the Visa Extras loyalty platform for administrative and rewards fulfillment services performed in support of the platform.
Volume and support incentives increased in fiscal 2009 primarily due to incentives incurred on initiation or early renewal of significant long-term customer contracts. These incentives were partially offset by the absence of a non-recurring charge related to a customer agreement executed in fiscal 2008.
The following table sets forth components of our total operating expenses for the periods presented.
The decrease in fiscal 2009 reflects the absence of larger severance and other charges incurred in fiscal 2008 associated with workforce consolidation and elimination of overlapping functions, combined with reduced contractor fees and employee incentive-related costs in fiscal 2009.
In fiscal 2009, expenses decreased, despite the launch of our global More people go with Visa campaign, reflecting the effective implementation of our global strategy to reduce cost.
The decrease in fiscal 2009 reflects the absence of consulting and legal fees incurred in fiscal 2008 in connection with our global reorganization and IPO, and related insourcing of professional services.
The decrease in fiscal 2009 primarily reflects the absence of depreciation and amortization for assets in our Colorado data center which were fully depreciated in fiscal 2008, partially offset by additional depreciation in fiscal 2009 from our new east coast data center.
Administrative and other expenses remained flat in fiscal 2009, primarily due to unrealized foreign exchange losses recorded upon the remeasurement of monetary assets and liabilities held by foreign subsidiaries into their functional currencies, offset by a decrease in overall spending reflecting our overall cost reduction strategy.
The decrease in fiscal 2009 primarily reflects the absence of litigation provision recorded in connection with the Discover settlement in fiscal 2008. See Note 22Legal Matters to our consolidated financial statements.
Other Income (Expense)
The following table sets forth the components of our other income (expense) for the periods presented.
The increase in fiscal 2009 primarily reflects the pre-tax gain of $473 million discussed above, partially offset by lower interest income earned from lower investment balances after funding our October 2008 stock redemptions.
Other non-operating income in fiscal 2008 reflects adjustments to the fair market value of our liability under the Framework Agreement with Visa Europe, which was settled during the first fiscal quarter of 2009.
Effective Income Tax Rate
The effective tax rate decreased to 36% in fiscal 2010, compared with 41% in fiscal 2009 and 40% in fiscal 2008.
The effective tax rate in fiscal 2010 was lower than the rate in fiscal 2009 primarily due to changes in the geographic mix of our global income, the benefit of tax incentives in Singapore, our largest operating hub outside the U.S., the nontaxable revaluation of the Visa Europe put option in fiscal 2010, and the additional foreign tax related to the sale of our investment in VisaNet do Brasil in fiscal 2009.
The increase in the effective income tax rate in fiscal 2009 compared to fiscal 2008 was primarily due to additional foreign tax in fiscal 2009 on the sale of our investment in VisaNet do Brasil.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
Management of Our Liquidity
We regularly evaluate cash requirements for current operations, commitments, development activities and capital expenditures and we may elect to raise additional funds for these purposes in the future through the issuance of either debt or equity. Our treasury policies provide management with the guidelines and authority to manage liquidity risk in a manner consistent with corporate objectives.
The objectives of our treasury policies are to provide adequate liquidity to cover operating expenditures and liquidity contingency scenarios, to ensure payments on required litigation settlements, to ensure timely completion of payments settlement activities, to make planned capital investments in our business, to pay dividends, to repurchase our shares at the discretion of our board of directors, to service the payments of principal and interest on outstanding debt, and to optimize income earned by investing excess cash in securities that we believe are high-quality and marketable in the short term.
Based on our current cash flow budgets and forecasts of our short-term and long-term liquidity needs, we believe that our projected sources of liquidity will be sufficient to meet our projected liquidity needs for more than the next 12 months. We will continue to assess our liquidity position and potential sources of supplemental liquidity in view of our operating performance, current economic and capital market conditions, and other relevant circumstances.
Cash Flow Data
This table summarizes cash flow activity for the following fiscal years:
Operating activities. Cash provided by operating activities for fiscal 2010 primarily reflects net income including non-controlling interest of $3.0 billion and adjustments for non-cash items of $2.1 billion, offset by payments for volume and support incentives and litigation settlements, primarily including $682 million prepayment of our Retailers litigation obligation, as further discussed below. Total cash provided by operating activities was higher during fiscal 2010 compared to the prior year, primarily reflecting higher year-to-date net income and lower litigation settlement payments. We believe that cash flow generated from operating activities will sufficiently meet our ongoing operational needs.
Cash provided by operating activities for fiscal 2009 consisted of net income including non-controlling interest of $2.4 billion and adjustments for non-cash items of $1.5 billion. Standard non-cash adjustments for volume and support incentive accruals and depreciation and amortization were offset by a $473 million pre-tax gain on the sale of our investment in VisaNet do Brasil, which is reflected in investing activities. Cash from operating activities also reflects the use of $3.3 billion to fund significant operational payments, including litigation and volume and support incentives.
Cash provided by operating activities for fiscal 2008 consisted of net income including non-controlling interest of $804 million and adjustments for non-cash items of $3.1 billion. Cash provided by operating activities was lower than income provided by operations, reflecting the use of cash to satisfy litigation settlement payments and volume and support incentive payments net of new accruals.
Investing activities. Cash used in investing activities during fiscal 2010 primarily reflects the acquisition of CyberSource in July 2010 for $1.8 billion, net of cash received. The use of cash in investing activities was partially offset by net cash proceeds of $56 million from sales and maturities of investment securities compared to $290 million in the prior year, both of which were reinvested in money market funds. We also received $89 million in cash distributions from the Reserve Primary Fund, or the Fund, in the current year compared to $884 million of distributions in the prior year as the Fund liquidated.
Cash provided by investing activities for fiscal 2009 primarily reflects the $884 million of cash distribution from the Fund, net cash proceeds of $290 million from the sales and maturities of investment securities and $1.0 billion from the sale of our 10% ownership in VisaNet do Brasil, all of which were reinvested in money market funds. We also purchased $306 million of property, equipment and technology primarily related to construction of our east coast data center.
Cash provided by investing activities for fiscal 2008 reflects $1.0 billion of cash acquired through the reorganization, $949 million of net cash proceeds from the sales and maturities of investment securities that were re-invested in shorter-term cash equivalents and $415 million of property,
equipment and technology purchases primarily related to construction of our data center. In addition, we reclassified our $953 million investment in the Fund from cash equivalents to other current assets on our consolidated balance sheet. See further discussion under Sources of Liquidity, below, and Note 7Prepaid Expenses and Other Assets to our consolidated financial statements.
Financing activities. Cash used in financing activities during fiscal 2010 primarily reflects $1 billion in repurchases of class A common stock in the open market, funding of $500 million to the litigation escrow account and $368 million of dividend payments.
Cash used in financing activities during fiscal 2009 primarily reflects contractually-required redemption of certain of our series class C common shares for $2.6 billion, funding of $1.8 billion to the litigation escrow account and dividend payments of $318 million, offset by covered litigation payments totaling $2.0 billion from the litigation escrow account.
Cash provided by financing activities for fiscal 2008 is attributable to IPO-related activities including $19.1 billion in net proceeds from the issuance of class A common stock, offset by $13.4 billion used for the partial redemption of class B and class C common stock, and $3.0 billion payment to the litigation escrow account for the covered litigation matters in accordance with the retrospective responsibility plan. See Note 4Retrospective Responsibility Plan to our consolidated financial statements. In addition, there was a source of cash of $1.1 billion, reflecting covered litigation payments from the litigation escrow account, offset by $93 million and $22 million for dividend and routine debt payments, respectively.
Sources of Liquidity
Our primary sources of liquidity are cash on hand, cash flow from our operations, an investment portfolio, and access to various equity and borrowing arrangements. Funds from operations are maintained in cash and cash equivalents, short-term available-for-sale investment securities, or long-term available-for-sale investment securities based upon our funding requirements, access to liquidity from these holdings, and return that these holdings provide.
Investment portfolio. Our investment portfolio is primarily comprised of securities which enable us to meet our working capital needs. Our investment portfolio primarily consists of liquid securities, including money market funds and debt securities issued by U.S. government-sponsored agencies. The liquidity of our investment portfolio is subject to uncertainties that are difficult to predict.
Other factors that may impact the liquidity of our investment portfolio include changes to credit ratings of the securities as well as to the underlying assets supporting those securities, rates of default of the underlying assets, underlying collateral value, discount rates, and ongoing strength and quality of credit markets. We will continue to review our portfolio in light of evolving market and economic conditions. However, if current market conditions deteriorate, the liquidity of our investment portfolio may be impacted and we could determine that some of our investments are impaired, which could adversely impact our financial results. We have policies that limit the amount of credit exposure to any one financial institution or type of investment.
Revolving credit facilities. On February 15, 2008, we entered into a $3.0 billion five-year revolving credit facility with a syndicate of banks including affiliates of certain holders of shares of our class B and class C common stock and certain of our clients and affiliates of our clients. Loans under the five-year facility may be in the form of: (1) Base Rate Advance, which will bear interest at a rate equal to the higher of the Federal Funds Rate plus 0.5% and the Bank of America prime rate; (2) Eurocurrency Advance, which will bear interest at a rate equal to LIBOR (as adjusted for applicable reserve requirements) plus an applicable cost adjustment and an applicable margin of 0.11% to 0.30% based
on our credit rating; or (3) U.S. Swing Loan, Euro Swing Loan, or Foreign Currency Swing Loan, which will bear interest at the rate equal to the applicable Swing Loan rate for that currency plus the same applicable margin plus additionally for Euro and Sterling loans, an applicable reserve requirement and cost adjustment. We also agreed to pay a facility fee on the aggregate commitment amount, whether used or unused, at a rate ranging from 0.04% to 0.10% and a utilization fee on loans at a rate ranging from 0.05% to 0.10% based on our credit rating. Currently, the applicable margin is 0.15%, the facility fee is 0.05% and the utilization fee is 0.05%. This facility contains certain covenants, including financial covenant requirements relating to a maximum level of debt to EBITDA and events of default customary for financings of this type. This facility expires on February 15, 2013. There were no borrowings under this facility and we were in compliance with all covenants during and at the end of fiscal 2010.
U.S. commercial paper programs. We maintain a $500 million U.S. commercial paper program, which provides for the issuance of unsecured debt with maturities up to 270 days from the date of issuance at interest rates generally extended to companies with comparable credit ratings. The commercial paper program is a source of short-term borrowed funds that may be used from time to time to cover short-term cash needs. We had no obligations outstanding under this program during and at the end of fiscal 2010. There are no financial covenants related to this program.
Universal shelf registration statement. On May 6, 2009, we filed a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission using a shelf registration process. As permitted by the registration statement, we may, from time to time, sell shares of debt or equity securities in one or more transactions. The registration statement expires on May 5, 2012.
Escrow account. We maintain an escrow account for use in the payment of covered litigation matters. When the Company funds the escrow account, the shares of class B common stock held by our stockholders are subject to dilution through an adjustment to the conversion rate of the shares of class B common stock to shares of class A common stock. See Note 4Retrospective Responsibility Plan to our consolidated financial statements. The balance in this account at September 30, 2010 was $1.9 billion and is reflected as restricted cash on our consolidated balance sheet. In October 2010, after the end of our 2010 fiscal year, we deposited an additional $800 million into the escrow account. As these funds are restricted for use solely for the purpose of making payments related to covered litigation matters, we have not included them as part of our liquid assets. However, they should be viewed as a source of cash for purposes of making payments related to settlement of or judgment in covered litigation matters, as described below under Uses of Liquidity.
At September 30, 2010, Standard and Poors and Moodys rated our unsecured debt as follows:
Various factors affect our credit ratings, including changes in our operating performance, the economic environment, conditions in the electronic payment industry, our financial position and changes in our business strategy. We do not currently foresee any reasonable circumstances under which our credit ratings would be significantly downgraded. If a downgrade were to occur, it could adversely impact, among other things, our future borrowing costs and access to capital markets.
Uses of Liquidity
Payments settlement. Payments settlement due from and due to issuing and acquiring clients represents our most consistent liquidity requirement, arising primarily from settlement currencies other than the U.S. dollar. U.S. dollar settlements are settled within the same day and do not result in a net receivable or payable balance. These settlement receivables and payables generally remain outstanding for one to two business days, consistent with standard market conventions for domestic transactions and foreign currency transactions. We maintain a liquidity position sufficient to enable uninterrupted daily net settlement. Typically, the highest seasonal liquidity demand is experienced in December and early January during the holiday shopping season.
Covered litigation. We are parties to legal and regulatory proceedings with respect to a variety of matters, including certain litigation that we refer to as covered litigation. As noted above, settlements of, or judgments in, covered litigation are paid from the escrow account. See Note 4Retrospective Responsibility Plan and Note 22Legal Matters to our consolidated financial statements, as well as Sources of Liquidity. In fiscal 2010, we made $280 million in covered litigation payments that were funded from the escrow account.
Other litigation. Judgments in and settlements of litigation, other than covered litigation, could give rise to future liquidity needs. For example, in connection with our Retailers litigation settlement in fiscal 2003, we were required to make annual settlement payments of $200 million through fiscal 2012. In fiscal 2009, we entered into an agreement to prepay our remaining payment obligations under the original Retailers litigation settlement agreement. We made a payment of $682 million to fully satisfy the remaining $800 million obligation in October 2009.
Share repurchase plan. During fiscal 2010, we used $1.0 billion to repurchase approximately 12.9 million shares of our class A common stock under the share repurchase plan authorized in October 2009. In October 2010, after the end of our 2010 fiscal year, our board of directors authorized a second $1.0 billion share repurchase plan to be in place through September 30, 2011, subject to extension or expansion at the determination of our board of directors. Repurchased shares have been retired and constitute authorized but unissued shares.
Dividends. During fiscal 2010, we paid $368 million in dividends. On October 20, 2010, our board of directors declared a quarterly dividend in the aggregate amount of $0.15 per share of class A common stock (determined in the case of class B and class C common stock on an as-converted basis). We expect to pay approximately $107 million in connection with this dividend in December 2010. See Note 16Stockholders Equity to our consolidated financial statements. We anticipate continuing to pay quarterly dividends in cash, subject to approval by our board of directors. Class B and class C common stock will share ratably on an as-converted basis in such future dividends.
Visa Europe put option. We have granted Visa Europe a perpetual put option which, if exercised, will require us to purchase all of the outstanding shares of capital stock of Visa Europe from its members. Visa Europe may exercise the put option at any time. The put option provides a formula for determining the purchase price of the Visa Europe shares, which subject to certain adjustments, applies Visa Inc.s forward price-to-earnings multiple, or the P/E ratio (as defined in the option agreement) at the time the option is exercised to Visa Europes adjusted sustainable income for the forward 12-month period, or the adjusted sustainable income. The calculation of Visa Europes adjusted sustainable income under the terms of the put option agreement includes potentially material adjustments for cost synergies and other negotiated items. Upon exercise, the key inputs to this formula, including Visa Europes adjusted sustainable income, will be the result of negotiation between us and Visa Europe. The put option provides an arbitration mechanism in the event that the two parties are unable to agree on the ultimate purchase price.
At September 30, 2010, we determined the fair value of the put option liability to be approximately $267 million. While this amount represents the fair value of the put option at September 30, 2010, it does not represent the actual purchase price that we may be required to pay if the option is exercised. The purchase price we could be obligated to pay 285 days after exercise will represent a substantial financial obligation, which could be several billion dollars or more. We may need to obtain third-party financing, either by borrowing funds or undertaking a subsequent equity offering in order to fund this payment. The amount of that potential obligation could vary dramatically based on, among other things, Visa Europes adjusted sustainable income and our P/E ratio, in each case, as negotiated at the time the put option is exercised.
Given the perpetual nature of the put option and the various economic conditions which could be present at the time of exercise, our ultimate obligation in the event of exercise cannot be reliably estimated. The following table calculates our total obligation assuming, for illustrative purposes only, a range of P/E ratios for Visa Inc. and assuming that Visa Europe demonstrates $75 million of adjusted sustainable income at the date of exercise. The $75 million of assumed adjusted sustainable income provided below, for illustrative purposes only, is based on Visa Europes forecasted financial results for the year ended September 30, 2010. However, this does not represent an estimate of the amount of adjusted sustainable income Visa Europe would have been able to demonstrate at September 30, 2010 or will be able to demonstrate at any point in time in the future. Should Visa Europe elect to exercise its option, we believe it is likely that it will implement changes in its business operations to move to a for-profit model in order to maximize adjusted sustainable income and, as a result, to increase the purchase price. The table also provides the amount of increase or decrease in the payout, assuming the same range of estimated P/E ratios, for each $25 million of adjusted sustainable income above or below the assumed $75 million demonstrated at the time of exercise. At September 30, 2010, our estimated long-term P/E ratio was 18.8 and the long-term P/E differential, the difference between this ratio and the estimated ratio applicable to Visa Europe, was 3.5. At September 30, 2010, the spot P/E ratio was 15.7 and the spot P/E differential, the difference between this ratio and the estimated spot ratio applicable to Visa Europe, was 1.6. These ratios are for reference purposes only and are not necessarily indicative of the ratio or differential that could be applicable if the put option were exercised at any point in the future.
Pension and other postretirement benefits. We sponsor various qualified and nonqualified defined benefit pension plans which generally provide benefits based on years of service, age and eligible compensation. Employees hired before January 1, 2008, earn benefits based on their pay during their last five years of employment. Employees hired or rehired on or after January 1, 2008 earn benefits based on a cash balance formula. Effective January 1, 2011, all employees will accrue benefits under the cash balance formula and will cease to accrue benefits under any other formula. We also sponsor a postretirement benefit plan which provides postretirement medical benefits for retirees and dependents upon meeting minimum age and service requirements. Our policy with respect to our qualified pension plan is to contribute annually not less than the minimum required under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA. Our nonqualified pension and other postretirement benefit plans are
funded on a current basis. We typically fund our qualified pension plan in September of each year. Funding does not impact current period pension expense but has the positive impact of reducing future period expense for the plan. In fiscal 2010, 2009 and 2008, we made contributions to our pension and other postretirement plans of $66 million, $170 million and $190 million, respectively. In fiscal 2011, we anticipate to fund our defined benefit pension plans and postretirement plan by approximately $60 million. The actual contribution amount will vary depending upon the funded status of the pension plan, movements in the discount rate, performance of the plan assets, and related tax consequences.
Capital expenditures. Our capital expenditures decreased during fiscal 2010 reflecting the completion of our new east coast data center in fiscal 2009. The new data center supports our technology objectives related to reliability, scalability, security and new product development. We expect capital expenditures to be approximately $250 million to $275 million in fiscal 2011, as we continue to make ongoing investments in technology and our payments system infrastructure.
Acquisition of CyberSource. On July 21, 2010, we completed our acquisition of CyberSource Corporation for approximately $2.0 billion in cash, or $1.8 billion net of cash received. The combination is expected to accelerate the growth of our eCommerce category and enhance the value of our network, product and service offerings to financial institutions, merchants, partners and consumers. See Note 6CyberSource Acquisition to our consolidated financial statements.
Other uses. In addition to the principal uses of liquidity described above, we are also required to make interest and principal payments under our outstanding indebtedness. Our total outstanding principal balance of debt at September 30, 2010, net of unamortized issuance costs, was $44 million.
Fair Value MeasurementsFinancial Instruments
The assessment of fair value of our financial instruments is based on a fair value hierarchy that requires an entity to maximize the use of observable inputs and minimize the use of unobservable inputs when measuring fair value. Observable inputs are obtained from independent sources and can be validated by a third party, whereas unobservable inputs reflect assumptions regarding what a third party would use in pricing an asset or liability. As of September 30, 2010, our financial instruments measured at fair value on a recurring basis included approximately $5.7 billion of assets, of which $13 million, or less than 1%, had significant unobservable inputs. For these instruments, we lacked observable market data to corroborate either the non-binding market consensus prices or the non-binding broker quotes. At September, 30, 2010, debt instruments in this category included auction rate securities. See Note 5Investments and Fair Value Measurements to our consolidated financial statements.
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
Our off-balance sheet arrangements primarily comprise guarantees. Visa has no off-balance sheet debt, other than lease and purchase order commitments as discussed below and reflected in our contractual obligations table.
Guarantees and Indemnifications
In 2001, Visa International entered into a 20-year lease agreement for premises in London to be occupied by Visa Europe and what is now the headquarters for our Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa operations. The lease is assigned to Visa Europe Services, Inc., or VESI, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Visa Europe, with Visa International acting as a guarantor to the landlord as required by the laws of the United Kingdom. In the event of a default by VESI, Visa International is obligated to make base lease payments. VESI has agreed to reimburse Visa International for any liabilities that may arise under Visa Internationals guarantee to the landlord. Visa International has not made any payments under this guarantee and the estimated fair value of this guarantee was less than $1 million at September 30, 2010.
We indemnify clients for settlement losses suffered by reason of the failure of any other customer to honor Visa cards, travelers cheques, or other instruments processed in accordance with our operating regulations. The amount of the indemnification is unlimited. We maintain global credit settlement risk policies and procedures to manage settlement risk which may require clients to post collateral if certain credit standards are not met. See Note 1Summary of Significant Accounting Policies and Note 13Settlement Guarantee Management to our consolidated financial statements.
In the ordinary course of business, we enter into contractual arrangements with financial institutions and other clients under which we may agree to indemnify the client for certain types of losses incurred relating to the services we provide or otherwise relating to our performance under the applicable agreement. See Note 19Commitments and Contingencies to our consolidated financial statements.
Our contractual commitments will have an impact on our future liquidity. The contractual obligations identified in the table below include both on- and off-balance sheet transactions that represent a material expected or contractually committed future obligation at September 30, 2010. We believe that we will be able to fund these obligations through cash generated from our operations and available credit facilities. See Note 3Visa Europe, Note 11Debt, Note 12Pension, Postretirement and Other Benefits, Note 19Commitments and Contingencies, and Note 22Legal Matters to our consolidated financial statements.
Critical Accounting Estimates
Our consolidated financial statements are prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America which requires us to make judgments, assumptions and estimates that affect the amounts reported. See Note 1Summary of Significant Accounting Policies to our consolidated financial statements. We have established policies and control procedures which seek to ensure that estimates and assumptions are appropriately governed and applied consistently from period to period. However, actual results could differ from our assumptions and estimates, and such differences could be material.
We believe that the following accounting estimates are the most critical to fully understand and evaluate our reported financial results, as they require our most subjective or complex management judgments, resulting from the need to make estimates about the effect of matters that are inherently uncertain and unpredictable.
Revenue RecognitionVolume and Support Incentives
Critical Estimates. We enter into incentive agreements with clients, merchants and other business partners to build payments volume and to increase product acceptance. These incentives are generally accounted for as reductions of operating revenue or expense where an identifiable benefit can be identified. Certain volume and support incentives are based on performance targets and are accrued systematically and rationally based upon estimates of future performance. Other incentives are based
on fixed payments and are generally deferred, if certain criteria are met. The deferability criteria include the existence of future benefits to Visa, the existence of legally enforceable recoverability clauses, managements ability and intent to enforce the recoverability clauses and the ability to generate future earnings from the agreement in excess of the deferred amounts. Capitalized amounts are amortized over the period of contractual recoverability.
Assumptions and Judgment. Estimation of volume and support incentives relies on forecasts of payments volume, estimates of card issuance and card conversion. Performance is estimated using customer reported information, transactional information accumulated from our systems, historical information and discussions with our clients.
Impact if Actual Results Differ from Assumptions. If our clients actual performance or recoverable cash flows are not consistent with our estimates, volume and support incentives may be materially different than initially recorded. Increases in incentive payments are generally driven by increased payment and transaction volume. As a result, in the event incentive payments exceed estimates, such payments are not expected to have a material effect on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. The cumulative impact of a revision in estimates is recorded in the period such revisions become probable and estimable. For the year ended September 30, 2010, performance adjustments to volume and support agreements were less than 1% of our total operating revenues.
Fair ValueVisa Europe Put Option
Critical Estimates. We have granted Visa Europe a perpetual put option under which, if exercised, we are required to purchase all of the share capital of Visa Europe from its members at any time. The put option provides a formula for determining the purchase price of the Visa Europe shares, which, subject to certain adjustments, applies Visa Inc.s forward price-to-earnings multiple, as defined in the agreement, at the time the option is exercised to Visa Europes adjusted sustainable income for the forward 12-month period, or the adjusted sustainable income. The calculation of Visa Europes adjusted sustainable income under the terms of the put option agreement includes potentially material adjustments for cost synergies and other negotiated items.
Upon exercise, the key inputs to this formula, including Visa Europes adjusted sustainable income, will be the result of negotiation between the Company and Visa Europe. The put option provides an arbitration mechanism in the event that the two parties are unable to agree on the ultimate purchase price. See Note 3Visa Europe to our consolidated financial statements for further detail regarding the calculation of the put exercise price under the agreement.
The fair value of Visa Europes option was estimated to be approximately $267 million at September 30, 2010. While the put option is in fact non-transferable, this amount, recorded in our financial statements represents our estimate of the amount we would be required to pay a third party market participant to transfer the put option in an orderly transaction at the measurement date. The fair value of the put option is computed by comparing the estimated strike price, under the terms of the Put agreement, to the estimated fair value of Visa Europe. The fair value of Visa Europe is defined as the estimated amount a third party market participant might pay in an arms length transaction under normal business conditions. A probability of exercise assumption is applied to reflect the possibility that Visa Europe will never exercise its option.
While this amount represents the fair value of the put option at September 30, 2010, it does not represent the actual purchase price that we may be required to pay if the option is exercised, which could be several billion dollars or more. See the Liquidity and Capital Resources section of Managements Discussion and Analysis for further discussion.
Assumptions and Judgment. The most significant estimates used in the valuation of the fair value of the put option are the assumed probability that Visa Europe will elect to exercise its option and the estimated differential between the forward price-to-earnings multiple applicable to our common stock, as defined in the put option agreement, and that applicable to Visa Europe on a standalone basis at the time of exercise, which we refer to as the P/E differential.
Probability of ExerciseExercise of the put option is at the sole discretion of Visa Europe (on behalf of the Visa Europe shareholders pursuant to authority granted to Visa Europe, under its articles of association). We estimate the assumed probability of exercise based on reasonably available information including, but not limited to: (i) Visa Europes stated intentions; (ii) indications that Visa Europe is preparing to exercise as reflected in its reported financial results; (iii) evaluation of market conditions, including the regulatory environment, that could impact the potential future profitability of Visa Europe; and (iv) qualitative factors applicable to Visa Europes largest members, which could indicate a change in their need or desire to liquidate their investment holdings.
P/E DifferentialThe P/E differential is determined by estimating the relative difference in the forward price-to-earnings multiples applicable to our common stock, as defined in the put option agreement, and that applicable to Visa Europe at the time of exercise. For valuation purposes, the forward price-to-earnings multiple applicable to our common stock at the time of exercise is estimated by evaluating various quantitative measures and qualitative factors. Quantitatively, we estimate our P/E ratio by dividing the average stock price over the preceding 24 months (the long-term P/E calculation) and the last 30 trading dates (the 30-day P/E calculation) prior to the measurement date by the median estimate of our net income per share for the 12 months starting with the next calendar quarter immediately following the reporting date. This median earnings estimate is obtained from the Institutional Brokers Estimate System (I/B/E/S). We then determine the best estimate of our long-term price-to-earnings multiple for valuation purposes by qualitatively evaluating the 30-day P/E calculation as compared to the long-term P/E calculation. In this evaluation we examine both measures to determine whether differences, if any, are the result of a fundamental change in long-term value of the Company or the result of short-term market volatility or other non-Company specific market factors that may not be indicative of our long-term forward P/E. We believe, given the perpetual nature of the put option, that a market participant would more heavily weight long-term value indicators, as opposed to short-term indicators.
Factors that might indicate a fundamental change in long-term value include, but are not limited to, changes in the regulatory environment, client portfolio, long-term growth rates or new product innovation. A consistent methodology is applied to a group of comparable public companies used to estimate the forward price-to-earnings multiple applicable to Visa Europe. These estimates therefore are impacted by changes in stock prices and the financial markets expectations of the future earnings of Visa Inc. and the comparable companies.
Other estimates of lesser significance applied include growth rates and foreign currency exchange rates applied in the calculation of Visa Europes adjusted sustainable income. The valuation model assumes a large range of annual growth rates, reflecting the different economic environments and circumstances under which Visa Europe could decide to exercise. The lowest growth rates assumed reflect Visa Europes current business model as an association, owned by its member banks, while the highest reflect a successful shift to a for-profit model in anticipation of exercise. The scenarios with higher growth rates are assigned a significantly higher probability in the valuation model, as we believe a market participant would more heavily weight these scenarios as it is likely that, should it choose to exercise its option, Visa Europe will seek to maximize the purchase price by adopting a for-profit business model in advance of exercising the put option. The foreign exchange rate used to translate Visa Europes results from Euros to U.S. dollars reflects a blend of forward exchange rates observed in the marketplace. The assumed timing of exercise of the put option used in the various modeled
scenarios is not an overly significant assumption in the valuation, as obligations calculated in later years are more heavily discounted in the calculation of present value.
Impact if Actual Results Differ from Assumptions. In the determination of the fair value of the put option at September 30, 2010, we have assumed a 40% probability of exercise by Visa Europe at some point in the future and a P/E differential, at the time of exercise, of approximately 3.5x. The use of a probability of exercise that is 5% higher than our estimate would have resulted in an increase of approximately $33 million in the value of the put option. An increase of 1.0x in the assumed P/E differential would have resulted in an increase of approximately $81 million in the value of the put option. The put option is exercisable at any time at the sole discretion of Visa Europe. As such, the put option liability is included in accrued liabilities on our consolidated balance sheet at September 30, 2010. Classification in current liabilities is not an indication of managements expectation of exercise and simply reflects the fact that this obligation could become payable within 12 months.
Fair ValueGoodwill and Intangible Assets
Critical Estimates. We are required to estimate the fair value and useful lives of assets acquired and liabilities assumed, including intangible assets, in a business combination. The difference between the purchase price and the fair value of the assets acquired and liabilities assumed is goodwill. We are subsequently required to assess assets acquired and goodwill for impairment.
Assumptions and Judgment. Judgment used in the valuation of assets and liabilities assumed in business combinations, including goodwill and intangible assets, can include the cash flows that an asset is expected to generate, the weighted average cost of capital and a discount rate determined by management. We believe that the assumptions made are comparable to those that market participants would use in making estimates of fair value. Determining the expected life of an intangible asset requires managements judgment and is based on the evaluation of various factors, including the competitive environment, market share, customer history and macroeconomic situation. We determined that our Visa brand, customer relationships and Visa Europe franchise right are intangible assets with indefinite lives, based on our significant market share, history of strong revenue and cash flow performance, and historical retention rates. As a result of acquiring CyberSource in July 2010, we acquired intangible assets comprising customer relationships, tradenames and reseller relationships, which we determined have finite useful lives ranging from 5 to 15 years. See Note 6CyberSource Acquisition and Note 9 Intangible Assets, Net to our consolidated financial statements. Our assets acquired, liabilities assumed and related goodwill are assigned to respective reporting units, and goodwill impairment is assessed at the reporting unit level.
Indefinite-lived intangible assets. Annually or whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that impairment may exist, we test each category of indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment on an aggregate basis, which may require the allocation of cash flows and/or an estimate of fair value to those assets or asset group. Impairment exists if the fair value of the indefinite-lived intangible asset is less than the carrying value. We rely on a number of factors when completing impairment assessment including a review of discounted future cash flows, business plans and use of present value techniques. As of July 1, 2010, we evaluated our indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment and concluded there was no impairment as of that date. No recent events or changes in circumstances indicate that impairment may exist thereafter as reflected by the overall performance of our business and market capitalization.
Finite-lived intangible assets. We evaluate the recoverability of finite-lived intangible assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset or asset group may not be recoverable. If the sum of expected undiscounted future cash flows is less than the carrying amount of an asset or asset group, an impairment loss is recognized. The loss is
measured as the amount by which the carrying amount of the asset or asset group exceeds its fair value. No events or changes in circumstances indicate that finite-lived intangible assets were impaired as of September 30, 2010.
Goodwill. Review of goodwill impairment is completed annually or whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that impairment may exist. Goodwill impairment is reviewed using a two-step process that involves comparing the fair value of the reporting unit to its carrying value and comparing the implied fair value of reporting unit goodwill with the carrying amount of that goodwill. We rely on a number of factors when completing impairment assessment including a review of discounted future cash flows, business plans and use of present value techniques. We evaluated our goodwill for impairment on July 1, 2010, and concluded there was no impairment as of that date. Subsequent to this annual assessment, we completed the CyberSource acquisition on July 21, 2010, which resulted in an additional $1.2 billion in goodwill and established a second reporting unit. We allocate goodwill to reporting units based on the reporting unit expected to benefit from the acquisition. Of the $1.2 billion, approximately $0.8 billion was allocated to the second reporting unit. The remainder was allocated to our original reporting unit to reflect the incremental growth and synergy this acquisition will provide to our existing business. No recent events or changes in circumstances indicate that impairment exist as reflected by the business performance of our reporting units and overall market capitalization.
Impact if Actual Results Differ from Assumptions. If actual results are not consistent with our assumptions and estimates, we may be exposed to impairment charges. The carrying values of goodwill and intangible assets, net were $11.4 billion and $11.5 billion, respectively, including $10.9 billion of indefinite-lived intangible assets and $595 million of finite-lived intangible assets, net at September 30, 2010.
Legal and Regulatory Matters
Critical Estimates. We are currently involved in various legal proceedings, the outcomes of which are not within our complete control or may not be known for prolonged periods of time. Management is required to assess the probability of loss and amount of such loss, if any, in preparing our financial statements.
Assumptions and Judgment. We evaluate the likelihood of a potential loss from legal or regulatory proceedings to which we are a party. We record a liability for such claims when a loss is considered probable and the amount can be reasonably estimated. Significant judgment may be required in the determination of both probability and whether an exposure is reasonably estimable. Our judgments are subjective based on the status of the legal or regulatory proceedings, the merits of our defenses and consultation with in-house and outside legal counsel. As additional information becomes available, we reassess the potential liability related to pending claims and may revise our estimates.
Our retrospective responsibility plan only addresses monetary liabilities from settlements of, or final judgments in, the covered litigation. The plans mechanisms include the use of the litigation escrow account. The accrual related to covered litigation could be either higher or lower than the escrow account balance. We did not record an additional accrual for covered litigation during fiscal 2010. See Note 4Retrospective Responsibility Plan to our consolidated financial statements.
Impact if Actual Results Differ from Assumptions. Due to the inherent uncertainties of the legal and regulatory processes in the multiple jurisdictions in which we operate, our judgments may be materially different than the actual outcomes, which could have material adverse effects on our business, financial conditions and results of operations. See Note 22Legal Matters to our consolidated financial statements.
Critical Estimates. In calculating our effective tax rate, we make judgments regarding certain tax positions, including the timing and amount of deductions and allocations of income among various tax jurisdictions.
Assumptions and Judgment. We have various tax filing positions with regard to the timing and amount of deductions and credits, the establishment of reserves for audit matters and the allocation of income among various tax jurisdictions. We are also required to inventory, evaluate and measure all uncertain tax positions taken or to be taken on tax returns and to record liabilities for the amount of such positions that may not be sustained, or may only be partially sustained, upon examination by the relevant taxing authorities.
Impact if Actual Results Differ from Assumptions. Although we believe that our estimates and judgments are reasonable, actual results may differ from these estimates. Some or all of these judgments are subject to review by the taxing authorities, including our current and deferred tax benefits associated with the settlement of the American Express litigation and the Discover litigation and other matters. See Note 22Legal Matters to our consolidated financial statements. If one or more of the taxing authorities were to successfully challenge our right to realize some or all of the tax benefit we have recorded, and we were unable to realize this benefit, it could have a material and adverse effect on our financial results and cash flows.
Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk
Market risk is the potential economic loss arising from adverse changes in market factors. Our exposure to financial market risks results primarily from fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, interest rates and equity prices. Cash and cash equivalents are not considered to be subject to significant interest rate risk due to the short period of time to maturity. Aggregate risk exposures are monitored on an ongoing basis. We do not hold or enter into derivatives or other financial instruments for trading or speculative purposes.
Foreign Currency Exchange Rate Risk
Although most of our activities are transacted in U.S. dollars, we are exposed to adverse fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates. Risks from foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations are primarily related to adverse changes in the dollar value of revenues generated from foreign currency-denominated transactions and adverse changes in the dollar value of payments in foreign currencies, primarily for expenses at our non-U.S. locations. We manage these risks by entering into foreign currency forward contracts with cash flow hedge accounting designation that hedge exposures of the variability in the U.S. dollar equivalent of anticipated non-U.S. dollar denominated cash flows. Our foreign currency exchange rate risk management program reduces, but does not entirely eliminate, the impact of foreign currency exchange rate movements.
We utilize a rolling hedge strategy program to reduce the exchange rate risk from forecasted net exposure of revenues derived from and payments made in foreign currencies during the immediately following 12 months. The aggregate notional amount of our foreign currency forward contracts outstanding in our exchange rate risk management program was $627 million and $742 million at September 30, 2010 and September 30, 2009, respectively. The aggregate notional amount of $627 million outstanding at September 30, 2010 is fully consistent with our strategy and treasury policy aimed at reducing foreign exchange risk below a predetermined and approved threshold. However, actual results for this period could materially differ from our forecast. The effect of a hypothetical 10% change of the U.S. dollar is estimated to create an additional fair value gain or loss of approximately $55 million on our foreign currency forward contracts outstanding at September 30, 2010. See Note 14Derivatives Financial Instruments to our consolidated financial statements.
We are also subject to foreign currency exchange risk in daily settlement activities. This risk arises from the timing of rate setting for settlement with clients relative to the timing of market trades for balancing currency positions. Risk in settlement activities is limited through daily operating procedures, including the utilization of Visa settlement systems and our interaction with foreign exchange trading counterparties.
Interest Rate Risk
Our investment portfolio assets are held in both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate securities. These assets are included in cash equivalents, short-term available-for-sale investments and long-term available-for-sale investments. Investments in fixed rate instruments carry a degree of interest rate risk. The fair value of fixed rate securities may be adversely impacted due to a rise in interest rates. Additionally, a falling rate environment creates reinvestment risk because as securities mature the proceeds are reinvested at a lower rate, generating less interest income. Historically, we have been able to hold investments until maturity. Our operating results or cash flows have not been, and are not expected to be, materially impacted by a sudden change in market interest rates.
The fair value balances of our fixed-rate investment securities in fiscal 2010 and 2009 were $135 million and $176 million, respectively. A hypothetical 100 basis point increase or decrease in interest rates would not have a material impact on our investment portfolio at September 30, 2010. The fair value balances of our adjustable-rate debt securities were $13 million and $34 million at September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively.
We also have fixed rate debt which is subject to interest rate risk. A hypothetical 100 basis point increase or decrease in interest rates would have impacted the fair value of the debt by approximately $1 million at September 30, 2010.
Visa Europe Put Option
We have a liability related to the put option with Visa Europe which is recorded at fair market value at September 30, 2010. We are required to record any change in the fair value of the put option on a quarterly basis. In the determination of the fair value of the put option at September 30, 2010, we have assumed a 40% probability of exercise by Visa Europe at some point in the future and a P/E differential, at the time of exercise, of approximately 3.5x. The use of a probability of exercise 5% higher than our estimate would have resulted in an increase of approximately $33 million in the value of the put option. An increase of 1.0x in the assumed P/E differential would have resulted in an increase of approximately $81 million in the value of the put option. See Liquidity and Capital Resources and Critical Accounting Estimates above.
Pension Plan Risks
Our U.S. defined benefit pension plan assets were $766 million and $703 million and projected benefit obligations were $743 million and $739 million at September 30, 2010 and September 30, 2009, respectively. A material adverse decline in the value of pension plan assets and/or the discount rate for benefit obligations would result in a decrease in the funded status of the plan, an increase in pension cost and an increase in required funding. We will continue to monitor the performance of pension plan assets and market conditions as we evaluate the amount of our contribution to the plan for fiscal 2011, which we expect to make in September 2011.
Quantitative and qualitative disclosures about market risk are included in Item 7Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations of this report.
INDEX TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm
The Board of Directors and Stockholders
Visa Inc. and subsidiaries:
We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of Visa Inc. and subsidiaries as of September 30, 2010 and 2009, and the related consolidated statements of operations, changes in equity, comprehensive income, and cash flows for each of the years in the three-year period ended September 30, 2010. We also have audited Visa Inc.s internal control over financial reporting as of September 30, 2010, based on criteria established in Internal Control Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO). Visa Inc.s management is responsible for these consolidated financial statements, for maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting, and for its assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting, included in the accompanying Managements Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these consolidated financial statements and an opinion on the Companys internal control over financial reporting based on our audits.
We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audits to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement and whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects. Our audits of the consolidated financial statements included examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements, assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, and evaluating the overall financial statement presentation. Our audit of internal control over financial reporting included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, and testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk. Our audits also included performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinions.
A companys internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A companys internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the company; (2) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the company; and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the companys assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.
Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.
In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Visa Inc. and subsidiaries as of September 30, 2010 and 2009, and the results of their operations and their cash flows for each of the years in the three-year period ended September 30, 2010, in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. Also in our opinion, Visa Inc. maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of September 30, 2010, based on criteria established in Internal Control Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission.
/s/ KPMG LLP
San Francisco, California
November 19, 2010
CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
See accompanying notes, which are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.
CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS(Continued)
See accompanying notes, which are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS
See accompanying notes, which are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS(Continued)
See accompanying notes, which are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CHANGES IN EQUITY
See accompanying notes, which are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CHANGES IN EQUITY(Continued)
See accompanying notes, which are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF COMPREHENSIVE INCOME