UPDATE 2-Visa urges quick adoption of safer card payment technology

Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:22am EST

* First-qtr earning $2.20/shr vs est $2.16/shr

* Total operating revenue up 11 pct to $3.16 bln

* Shares up 2 pct

By Tanya Agrawal

Jan 30 (Reuters) - Visa Inc's chief executive urged U.S. merchants and banks to hasten the adoption of a more secure technology for credit and debit cards after security breaches at several retailers.

Banks and retailers have been dragging their feet over the upgrade and have been at odds over who should bear the cost, which experts have said could be as much as $10 billion.

Visa and MasterCard Inc have been pushing for merchants and issuers to meet an October 2015 target date to accept cards with an embedded chip to hold information, rather than rely on the easily copied magnetic strips.

Analysts have estimated that only 60 percent of U.S. point-of-sale terminals would meet the target date.

"Unfortunately many merchants and issuers and both of their lobbyists are attempting to assign blame in the press and not reacting in a particularly constructive manner," Charlie Scharf said in a post-earnings conference call.

"It is in all of our best interest that change quickly."

Last month Target Corp, the third-largest U.S. retailer, said about 40 million credit card records and 70 million other records containing data on its customers were stolen in a security breach.

Luxury retail chain Neiman Marcus and Michaels Cos Inc, the biggest U.S. arts and crafts retailer, have said they were victims of cyber attacks.

Most Americans have been victims of data theft, but that hasn't stopped them from using credit cards and social media sites or shopping online, according to a Ipsos/Reuters poll of 8,308 Americans.

About 64 percent of the victims said the experience had not deterred them from using their credit or debit cards.

PROFIT BEATS

Visa, the world's largest credit and debit card company, reported a better-than-expected rise in quarterly profit as more people used cards instead of cash to make payments.

Net income attributable to Visa rose 9 percent to $1.41 billion, or $2.20 per Class A share, in the first quarter from $1.29 billion, or $1.93, a year earlier.

Total operating revenue increased 11 percent to $3.16 billion in the quarter ended Dec. 31.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of $2.16 per share on revenue of $3.13 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Foster City, California-based Visa said total volume grew about 7 percent to $1.84 trillion, helped by a strong holiday shopping in the United States.

Visa shares were up 2 percent at $221.80 in morning trading on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. MasterCard shares were also up 2 percent at $79.19.

Shares of Visa, a component of the Dow Jones industrial average, have gained about 44 percent last year, outperforming the 27 percent rise in the broader Dow Jones index.

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