Of all the bankers to take issue with the practices at Visa International, perhaps none were more visible or vocal as John Reed.
So Visa International chief executive Malcolm Williamson might be forgiven for not exactly regretting Mr. Reed's recent decision to retire as co-chief executive of Citigroup Inc.
Instead, Mr. Williamson seems almost to miss Mr. Reed, noting that some changes Visa planned to adopt might have alleviated tension between Visa and Citi, which eventually shifted its main allegiance to MasterCard.
"If John Reed had stayed with Visa and not retired, he might have found a lot of things that he wanted, changing in the direction that he would have liked," Mr. Williamson said. Other members echoed Mr. Reed's concerns about paying for unwanted services, he said.
The accommodation only goes so far, however.
Visa's leadership still disagrees with Mr. Reed's position on branding issues. Mr. Reed had adamantly argued that Citibank should be able to subsume the Visa logo. He objected to paying vast sums for marketing campaigns that favored the Visa brand over Citi's. A Citigroup executive now sits on the board of MasterCard, which has granted some branding concessions.
Mr. Reed "would have liked to have seen Visa significantly reduce the amount of money spent on the brand," Mr. Williamson said. "I think that would have been wrong. The [Visa] U.S.A. board thought it would be wrong. It was probably more on that point of principle than anything else that he entered into the decision he took."
That said, "In reality, Citibank is still a very important customer" of Visa International, Mr. Williamson said. "They still have a whole lot of card business with us" and are working with Visa on a sophisticated chip card venture. "I'd like to think that Citibank will remain an important client to Visa."