Former Schwab CEO David Pottruck liked to joke that he issued employees seat belts to protect them from the businesses aggressive changes in direction. Ex-Schwabbie John Philip Coghlan
may want to unpack them for his new high-profile gig as the CEO of Visa USA
On the plus side, the 54-year-old former head of Schwab's institutional division will remain close to home at the San Francisco-based banking association that provides the payment system behind the Visa credit card network. Still, the seatbelts may come in handy for the former Schwab vice chairman as he leads Visa in its own battle with transformation.
Visa USA is facing a revolt by merchants upset over what they perceive as high fees on the VISA network for debit card transactions. Those transactions now account for about a third of the network's volume of $3 trillion in payments annually. Wal-Mart has led the resistance against the fees by threatening to not accept the cards. Other retailers have sued Visa and MasterCard, alleging price fixing.
Coghlan's hire is seen by industry watchers as an attempt to bring "fresh blood" and new ideas to the credit card industry. For Coghlan, who once started an electronic grocery business a decade before the Web, the task should be an interesting one.
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