First Data Corp. has snagged another key executive from Visa International.

Peter B. Gustafson, 46, has just become executive vice president of product management for the company's Electronic Funds Services in Palo Alto, Calif.

First Data said that the post is new, and that Mr. Gustafson will be responsible for "products and services that support its merchant client base" as well as for developing a global strategy "for card acceptance and electronic commerce."

Mr. Gustafson, who announced at the end of January that he would step down from his post at Visa, was an executive vice president of Visa International. Among other things, he oversaw debit card services and merchant acquirer programs for Visa.

Several Visa executives have migrated to First Data in the last few years.

Roger Peirce, head of First Data's electronic funds services unit, came from Visa in 1994. He hired Scott Loftesness, another Visa expatriate, who is First Data's group president for electronic funds services product development.

Mr. Gustafson will report to Mr. Loftesness. Neither was available for comment.

"This is a win for FDC and a loss for Visa," said James Greene, managing partner of Andersen Consulting, San Francisco. "Pete brings an enormous amount of technology, product, and market expertise in the emerging world of electronic banking, payments, and commerce. It is another addition to the quality of executives at FDC."

Mr. Greene, who has known Mr. Gustafson professionally for 10 years, said he brings First Data "a mind-set and a point of view around the needs of the merchant community" and expertise "about smart card technology and how to apply it in business terms." He added that Mr. Gustafson also has "a sense of what it takes to implement and employ complex technology solutions."

Stanley Anderson, president of Anderson & Associates, Arvada, Colo., said Mr. Gustafson is "someone who is truly knowledgeable about where the associations are from a merchant point of view" and will inform First Data about "the strategic role the merchant must play for a successful processor such as FDC."

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