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New Federal Reserve credit card industry rules going into effect next year and pending legislation that would force additional changes will not mark the end of the credit or the debit card business in the U.S., Joseph W. Saunders, Visa Inc. chairman and CEO, said yesterday during a conference call with analysts discussing the company's second fiscal quarter results. Asked how the changes might affect Visa's business, Saunders said: "I am reasonably certain that we will continue to see increases in volumes as the economy recovers. But these are troublesome times." Saunders added that Visa does not expect a bill that might cut or cap interchange fees to be bundled into existing legislation that would change issuer practices, such as the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights. "We feel quite good about any interchange legislation not being in (the Fed rules) or Maloney's or Welch's or any other bill, for the time being," he said. Despite the negative payment-volume growth trends in the U.S., Saunders said Visa is "encouraged" by "some stabilization in the U.S. payment volume" in preliminary trend data through April. Asked whether Visa is considering purchasing any bank-owned card-processing operations, Saunders said: "We're looking at (it). That would put us at the center of the payments business in other regions around the world, particularly in emerging regions."


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