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That's kind of a weird thing, like my mental picture of Visa is indeed that they're a bit stodgy and behind the times.

But then the other part of me says that I clearly have no clue what I'm talking about, there's basically no chance they could stay relevant this long without being on top of it at some meaningful level. And potential quasi monopoly status doesn't quite capture it. So much of finance has been disrupted by technology, you figure if there's finance companies who wasn't disrupted, it must be because they are the technology.

All the POS tech is behind the times, because retailers don't want to spend the money to upgrade. But behind the scenes I'm sure their fraud detection etc. is quite reasonable.

It seems their main software division is in India and in the US it's mostly sales, servers, mobile, and POS support, suggesting that the company is focused on the bottom line and probably could be disrupted. For example Bitcoin is getting more and more prevalent. But it's going to take a while before supporting a new payment network is as easy as an over-the-air software update. And the recent trend in "disruption" is acquihires as seen here.

Visa is extremely unlikely to be disrupted. Their Network links almost every bank in the world. It would take decades for a competitor to sign up all the random banks out there. Furthermore the intermediate steps are not really that lucrative. It'd take tremendous up front cost and patience.

Apple couldn't even do it with their in-house credit card.

I'd argue that their weakness is governments more than companies.

Governments are eventually going to see "a foreign company owning our major payment networks" as a national security and sovereignity risk, especially if we end up in a multi-major-power world. They'll also eventually covet the data and the ability to disable "inconvenient" business. You might see it take the form of a government-mandated account (would Visa/Mastercard have taken off at the same angle if universal, instant direct debits were available in the US?), or just providing a glidepath for local commercial alternatives. Look at what Russia is doing with the Mir card.

Visa measures its downtime in seconds per decade. Whatever they’re doing seems to be sustainable and scalable. They work so well, people just take them for granted. ‘It just works’ is a pretty good business model.

It could just be that to be a payment processor, it helps to have a conservative, reliable image.

Speaking from experience, of all 3 major US card networks, I consider Visa the most advanced in terms of their tech.

their unfair advantage is being a front from selling data pipelines to hedge funds.

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