$32,000 a second – for a year

Visa USA announced this morning that, for the first time, its annual sales volume exceeded $1 trillion.

The record usage means that an average of $32,000 went through the Visa system every second of every day over the 12-month period that ended March 31 – or nearly 10 percent of the 2002 U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

“One trillion dollars is an almost incomprehensible number, but it represents clear evidence of the silent revolution we’re witnessing in the way consumers pay for goods and services. It means $12 of every $100 consumers spent in the U.S. is spent using a Visa card,” said Carl Pascarella, president and CEO of Visa USA. “This is an important milestone in the history of U.S. commerce. Clearly, more and more people rely upon the security and convenience of Visa credit, debit and other payment products. To put it into context, $1 trillion could buy 162,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycles every day for a year.”

By comparison, $1 trillion is greater than the combined volume of all other U.S. payment organizations, a field that includes MasterCard, American Express, Discover and others.

Just before I left Visa in 1994, I remember having a discussion with a colleague about growth in sales volume. 1993 had just ended with $500 billion in annual Visa sales on an international basis. We were focused on that total growing to $1 trillion globally over the next five years. As I recall, the US in 1993 was about 40+% of the global total — so the growth in US volume over the last nine years has been pretty amazing. Of course, this is also one of those statistics that has a nice built-in inflation hedge too (the numbers just keep growing!). $32,000 a second — at a $50 average ticket that works out to an average of 640 Visa transactions per second.

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