NEW YORK — Visa Inc.'s chairman and chief executive Joseph Saunders received $11.8 million in compensation for fiscal 2011 as the payments processor grew revenue and transaction volume in the face of new debit-card regulations.
Saunders' compensation package includes a base salary of $950,037 as well as $3.1 million from Visa's non-equity incentive plan, the San Francisco company said Wednesday in a proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Saunders received a total of $12.9 million in fiscal 2010 and $13.2 million in fiscal 2009, the filing said.
The executive's compensation also included $5.2 million in stock awards and $1.7 million in options for the most recent fiscal year. A year earlier, Saunders received $3.5 million in stock awards and $3.3 million in options.
Visa and its largest competitor MasterCard Inc. operate processing networks that handle transactions made with the credit, debit and prepaid cards issued by their client banks. Their revenue grows as transaction volume increases.
Despite a tough U.S. employment market and concerns over Europe's debt crisis, Visa's transaction volume grew 12% in fiscal 2011 to 50.9 billion. Visa reported operating revenue of $9.2 billion for the year, up 14% from a year earlier.
Visa's shares have risen more than 36% year-to-date and were up 4 cents at $95.95 in recent trading.
More recently Visa and the banks that issue its cards have been grappling with new regulations that took effect Oct. 1 capping the amount of fees that large banks can charge merchants when a consumer swipes a debit card. The rules, part of a provision in last year's Dodd-Frank financial overhaul legislation, lowered such fees to about 24 cents per transaction from an average of 44 cents.
While Visa and MasterCard do not collect the fees as revenue, they set the rates for their banks. That has prompted concerns that banks may pressure the payment processors to lower separate fees they charge the financial institutions.
The rules also include provisions that take effect in April requiring banks to include multiple processing options on their debit cards. That could divert transaction volume away from Visa, which has exclusive deals with many of its bank partners.
Visa has responded by courting merchants with rebate and incentive payments intended to entice them to continue routing transactions over its network.
Nomura analyst Bill Carcache, which initiated Visa with a buy rating Monday, said the company's "long-term growth prospects remain attractive" despite the regulations, which "dealt a blow to Visa's ability to profit from its dominance in U.S. debit."