Visa International has introduced a market research program that it said will give members the ability to track the performance of their various credit card programs and to see how they compare with their competitors.

The program's two components will be included in Visa's ongoing payment systems panel study, which monitors consumer usage of all payment methods.

The first, the quarterly Competitive Monitor, provides information that allows a Visa member to track the performance of different card programs, segmented by category - such as low-rate cards or rewards programs.

Performance Monitor, also quarterly, shows how well a Visa member is doing against its competition, compared to the overall market or against a peer group defined by the member.

Research for the programs is handled through NFO Research Inc. of Greenwich, Conn., which surveys 5,000 consumers quarterly. Harvey Bondar, Visa's senior vice president of market research, described the market research as a step up from previous Visa efforts.

"The basic payment systems study gave information on how consumers were spending their money," he said. "This enabled members to make decisions about whether to jump into cobranding. We were able to tell them, for instance, how owners of these cards were behaving.

"We've now coupled that information with data that will be much more useful. They will now be able to tell how they're doing as compared to other banks."

Scores are given to evaluate cardholder quality and an issuer's share of its cardholders' spending and revolving.

In February, as part of its VisaVue program, Visa offered issuers targeted information to help with their cobranding programs.

VisaVue, which provides mainframe data about credit card spending patterns, handles only transactional volume from Visa cards. Visa said the new programs offer a broader spectrum of card usage in diverse areas such as behavioral patterns and card features.

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