Visa U.S.A. is pushing to attract more business from credit unions.

It has formed an alliance with CSG Card Services, the card processing affiliate of the Credit Union National Association, to provide commercial card services to credit unions. CUNA is the largest credit union trade association.

While CSG Card Services will provide processing for its customers that issue MasterCard International's commercial cards, it will promote exclusively Visa corporate, business, and purchasing cards to the nation's 12,400 credit unions.

As part of the alliance, Visa and CSG Card Services will develop a sales support and training program designed for credit unions to promote the use of business cards. The program will include marketing packages, advertising, activation, usage, and educational support.

Currently, 15% of card issuing credit unions offer corporate cards, representing $2.5 million per corporate card program, according to a CSG Card Services survey.

An additional 27% of credit unions said they would offer commercial card products during the next two years, the survey found.

The fifth-largest card processor, CSG Card Services handles the card processing needs for approximately 2,600 credit unions, or about 50% of the institutions that issue credit cards.

CSG Card Services manages five million cardholder accounts, representing $5.5 billion in receivables. It is the largest card processor in its industry. CSG Card Services recently moved into a $13 million state-of-the- art facility in Madison, Wis.

The alliance presents an opportunity for credit unions to offer more services to their corporate sponsors and select employee groups and other commercial clients, said Jill Starz, commercial cards product manager for CSG Card Services.

"Traditionally, credit unions exist to serve the needs of a company's employees," she said. "But they are also in a unique position to provide services to their corporate sponsors, and this alliance opens the door for more business with the sponsor."

CSG Card Services selected SynapQuest, a subsidiary of CoreStates Bank of Delaware that specializes in commercial card processing, to provide processing, 24-hour cardholder customer service, and reporting services for all three Visa commercial products.

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