Visa U.S.A. said Wednesday that it will team up with a leading credit card processing company to offer banks a new option for providing card services to retail merchants.

The as yet unnamed joint venture, combining the merchant processing activities of Visa and Total System Services Inc., is expected to be in business by yearend - in time to provide a counterweight to the pending $6.7 billion merger of transaction processors First Data Corp. and First Financial Management Corp.

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