Visa emerging from pandemic ‘storm’ as spending volumes recover

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A Visa credit card is seen on a computer keyboard in this picture illustration taken September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Illustration

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April 27 (Reuters) - Visa Inc (V.N) is emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, its top boss said on Tuesday, as a surge in online shopping helped the world’s biggest payment processor beat Wall Street estimates for quarterly profit and counter sluggish travel spending.

Payment companies are seeing an uptick in volumes from the coronavirus-induced slump as massive government stimulus and speedy vaccine rollouts fuel an economic recovery, unleashing pent-up demand for both goods and services.

"Visa has weathered the COVID storm and is emerging from the pandemic even stronger," Chief Executive Officer Alfred Kelly Jr told analysts on a call.

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Visa's total payment volumes rose 11% on a constant dollar basis from a year earlier, its biggest jump since the start of the pandemic.

It saw a return to positive growth for credit and card present transactions, while debit and ecommerce also grew, Kelly Jr said.

U.S. debit cards volumes soared 31% to $806 billion.

"If you leave out the travel part of the business, the rest of the business is beginning to look as if the pandemic never happened," Chief Financial Officer Vasant Prabhu told Reuters.

Restrictions and a resurgence of infections in several parts of the world have hit travel plans, sending cross-border volumes at Visa down 11%. That was still better than the past two quarters.

Prabhu said the recovery continued despite closed borders, with travel to and from the United States and Latin America providing the biggest boost.

India's second wave was affecting Visa's business in the country "without a doubt", he told Reuters.

"It's probably going to affect travel in and out of India. Whether it will have a broader impact on our business ... it's too early to tell."

Visa reported net income of $1.38 per Class A share for the second quarter, compared with analysts' estimates of $1.27 per share.

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Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath

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