Visa USA rapidly expanding card acceptance in utility sector

SAN FRANSISCO, June 14, 2005 — Visa USA announced Salt River Project (SRP), the nation’s third-largest public power utility and one of Arizona’s largest water suppliers, has joined Visa’s Utility Program and will accept Visa exclusively for automatic recurring bill payments.

Salt River Project joins approximately 500 residential utilities across the country that have signed on to offer nearly 7 million customers the convenience, security and added benefits of card payments since the launch of Visa’s multi-pronged residential utilities campaign in late 2004.

“We’ve worked aggressively over the last three years to develop a solution uniquely tailored to help utilities fulfill critical objectives,” said Jim Eitler, vice president, merchant relations, Visa USA. “Through payment card acceptance, our utility merchants can provide better service to their customers and attain the broad operational benefits and value that payment with cash and checks cannot deliver.”

Visa’s new relationship with Salt River Project enables cardholders to schedule regular payments with their Visa credit or Visa check card to automatically pay their electric bills, allowing them to easily track their payments on their monthly card statements. SRP is a five -time winner among electricity providers in the western U.S. of J.D. Power and Associates’ annual survey of customer service satisfaction for residential electric service.

“Our customers expect, and we strive to provide, the utmost in customer service,” said Michael Lowe of SRP. “Our relationship with Visa will allow SRP to further deliver on our commitment to service options and convenience to our 780,000 residential customers by providing recurring bill payment services, while also allowing us to realize operational benefits like lower bottom line customer service costs, streamlined billing, and other operating efficiencies.”

In the fourth quarter of 2004, Visa announced the launch of a targeted campaign to expand card acceptance at residential utility companies. To maximize the $177 billion opportunity for electronic payments in the utilities sector, Visa’s program offers a reduced incentive fee structure, addresses consumer convenience fee barriers, demonstrates how utility operation expenses can be curbed through card acceptance and provides specialized support services to participating utilities. In 2004, cardholders paid $69.9 billion in household bills with Visa debit and credit cards – a 25 percent increase over the previous year. Visa’s volume in the utilities segment increased 44 percent during the same period.

By accepting Visa, utilities benefit from reduced operational expenses, the ability to offer around-the-clock payment services, and other specialized support services enabled by Visa acceptance. Visa research with billers that accept payment cards indicates that:

* Payments made with payment cards are authorized 72 percent faster than payments made with checks

* Delinquency rates on accounts paid with payment cards are over 20 percent less than accounts paid by check

* 5 percent fewer payments require exception processing

* Up to 25 percent fewer customer service calls are reported per customer

According to Visa’s research, approximately one-third of customers indicate they would sign up for automatic bill payment if given the option due to the convenience, ability to ensure on-time payments, security of card payments and rewards.

The utility industry is one of several emerging industries Visa has targeted for increased card acceptance. Others include quick service restaurants, government, small ticket segments and business to business among others.

About Visa

Visa USA is the nation’s leading payment brand and largest payment system, enabling banks to provide their consumers and business customers with a wide variety of payment alternatives tailored to meet their evolving needs. Visa USA is committed to increasing the choice, convenience, acceptance, and security of Visa payments for all stakeholders in the payments systems – Members, cardholders and merchants. Through its 14,000 Member financial institutions, more than 463 million Visa-branded cards have been issued to cardholders in the United States. Last year, U.S.-based financial institutions rely on Visa’s processing system, VisaNet, to facilitate $1.3 trillion in transactions with virtually 100 percent reliability.

Worldwide, cardholders in over 150 countries carry more than 1 billion Visa-branded cards, accounting for more than $3 trillion in annual transaction volume.

Visa offers a trusted, reliable and convenient way to access and mobilize financial resources – anytime, anywhere, anyway.

About SRP [ www.srpnet.com ]

SRP is two entities: the Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District, a political subdivision of the state of Arizona; and the Salt River Valley Water Users’ Association, a private corporation. The District provides electricity to more than 860,000 retail customers in the Phoenix area. It operates or participates in eight major power plants and numerous other generating stations, including thermal, nuclear, natural gas and hydroelectric sources. The Association delivers nearly 1 million acre-feet of water to a service area in central Arizona. An extensive water delivery system is maintained and operated by the Association, including reservoirs, wells, canals and irrigation laterals.

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