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E-Commerce Drives Usage of Visa Check Card

Visa USA yesterday reported its consumer check card recorded a tremendous surge in e-commerce usage in the first six months of this year.

Consumers used their Visa check cards to spend $8.9 billion over the Internet in the January through June period. And e-commerce volume in the second quarter grew 7.5 percent over the first.

"These numbers are quite remarkable given the economic climate during the first six months of the year," Stacey Pinkerd, Visa USA's senior vice president for debit and prepaid products, said in a statement.

Overall, the Iraq war and a slow economy did not stop more than 133 million Visa check cardholders from spending over $134 billion in the first six months of 2003. Spending on the check card in the first six months of this year was up 20 percent over the same period last year.

By contrast, U.S. consumer spending in the first six months of 2003 rose only 4.8 percent compared with the year before, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Visa attributes the check card's popularity to the shift from cash and checks to electronic payments for e-commerce transactions. The San Francisco-based payments franchise also cites its zero-liability fraud loss policy and security requirements for online retailers to support the check card's growth.

According to an Aug. 22 report from the Census Bureau, U.S. retail sales on the Internet in the second quarter rose 4.6 percent to $12.48 billion, from $11.92 billion in the first quarter. When compared with the same second quarter a year ago, e-commerce sales jumped 27.8 percent.

Still, e-commerce accounted for only 1.2 percent of all sales in the second quarter, albeit higher than the 1.2 percent for the second quarter of 2002. Total online sales last year were estimated at $45.2 billion.

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