Visa International said it foresees most major governments will follow the lead of the United States, Great Britain, and Australia in adopting payment cards for procurement and other uses.

Heightened interest by governments around the world in payment cards led Visa to hold its first annual conference on the subject, which drew about 60 people on May 20 and 21.

Stephen Langhans, vice president of commercial products for Visa International, said he anticipates the event will grow as foreign governments begin using commercial cards-purchasing cards in particular-to save money on procurement.

"We're pretty bullish on this," Mr. Langhans said. "We would guess within five years most of the major markets are going to have government payment cards in place."

Visa's member banks "are looking at this as a new opportunity in those major markets," he said. In the United States, "the government has been a real partner in innovation."

Under the General Services Administration's SmartPay program, each federal agency has chosen purchasing, fleet, and travel card providers from among five eligible banks.

In the United Kingdom's program, agencies may also choose a provider, but only purchasing cards are being used, Mr. Langhans said. The Australian government has also been using purchasing cards for a few years, he said.

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