Visa U.S.A. has refocused attention on credit product management by adding an executive to manage that area for the United States.

This week the San Francisco-based association said it named Robert E. Stock, 41, senior vice president of credit products. He reports to Michael Beindorff, executive vice president, marketing, and product management.

Last fall, Visa International hired Richard Bialek from Ameritech as senior vice president of consumer credit products to manage that area internationally. Mr. Bialek reports to Richard Hagadorn, an executive vice president for Visa International.

"Obviously, the U.S. is a very important and significant market for Visa, and it certainly warrants a separate product/management function," Mr. Stock said in an interview. "The intent at Visa U.S.A. is to build a product management function that is unique to the U.S market."

"The competitive set is different in the U.S.," agreed K. Shelly Porges of Porges/Hudson Marketing in San Francisco.

Mr. Stock left his position of senior vice president/director of marketing at NationsBank Card Services, based in Charlotte, N.C., for Visa. NationsBank Corp. said it is in the process of recruiting his replacement.

"I think what appealed to me about Visa, in general," Mr. Stock said, "is it deals with the brand on an overall basis. It gives me the ability to work in the kind of scope that allows me to influence the consumer perception of the brand."

Working for an association will differ from his roles at NationsBank and elsewhere. "I was much more responsible for numerical growth, even though at Visa we're very concerned with that as well. We're also stewards of the brand and stewards of the product on a long-term basis."

"Bob is a very smart guy," Ms. Porges said, "obviously, with a good range of experience. He's good conceptually."

Mr. Stock will use his experience in his new position as he defines product strategies, for example, features of the cards, and builds product management.

"It gives me a lot of opportunity to really build a product, support, and management function to manage the progress of what is in the U.S. - classic, gold, and commercial cards," Mr. Stock said.

"At NationsBank we were able to build a much more sophisticated environment, state-of-the-art staff, and capabilities in data base modeling. In addition, we were able to do a number of interesting cobranded deals, including the Blockbuster card, and develop a lot of capability in the commercial products area."

Mr. Stock said there is potential growth in the commercial card product arena in the United States. "In addition, the gold and classic cards continue to be brand leaders in the U.S.," he said. "It's very important for us to continue to grow those brands and the positive customer perception of those products."

Mr. Stock moved up quickly through the bank card industry, broadening his responsibilities with each move, Ms. Porges pointed out. Before moving to NationsBank, he was senior vice president and director of credit card marketing for Barnett Bank in Jacksonville, Fla. Prior to that, he was vice president/senior marketing manager at First Chicago Corp.'s bank card operations.

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