Credit card giant Visa (NYSE: V) announced Wednesday that its Board of Directors has appointed the firm’s new Chief Executive Officer, turning to a seasoned banking executive to do so. The change comes at an important time for Visa, struggling to maintain its competitive advantage during a changing landscape.
Charles W. Scharf, who is currently the Managing Director of One Equity Partners, which manages $10 billion of investments for JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), will assume the role of CEO for Visa starting on November 1, 2012. Scharf has a strong track record in financial services, even if his experience specifically in the credit card space is a bit more limited. Nonetheless, his performance managing should be seen as an asset to Visa, with a strong likelihood of continued success.
Joseph Saunders, the outgoing CEO of Visa will be named executive chairman and will serve in that role through March 31, 2013, when he is scheduled to retire. Saunders has been at the helm since 2007, and his tenure included successfully guiding Visa through its transition to a publicly traded company. Scharf is no stranger to Visa, having worked previously in his career as a Director with the company.
Both Saunders and the Board of Directors are excited to welcome him back to the firm, which he has had an extended absence from, but re-joins amidst impressive growth. Saunders commented “I have known Charlie Scharf for almost a decade and I believe he is uniquely qualified to lead Visa in the future.”
Visa has been highly successful under Saunders’ reign, continuing that growth will be important for Scharf, as is coming up with strategies to deal with the non-traditional competitors that are emerging in the payment space. Firms like PayPal are aggressively adding retailers, and while they are currently a miniscule operation in comparison to Visa’s fully developed network, they may grow to be a serious competitor as consumer tastes and payment methods continue to evolve.