SAN FRANCISCO -- Visa International said more than 20 savings institutions in the German state of Bavaria have agreed to issue Visa cards this year.

The thrifts previously issued only Eurocards, charge cards tied to the MasterCard International system.

Visa said Bayerische Landesbank, the central bank for Bavarian thrifts, agreed to help set up the local Visa programs.

"This development reflects the growing momentum among financial institutions to offer the German consumer alternatives when it comes to credit cards," said Jean-Jacques Desbons, president and chief executive of Visa International's Europe, Middle East, and Africa region.

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