Licensing Program

In order to become a licensed Visa card issuer, you must provide Visa with some information to get going. This information is important to ensure all licensed issuers are vetted and meet certain regional requirements for various regulations.

If approved, you will unlock the power of Visa issuing and get access to several other products and services we provide – like Visa APIs and solutions.

Start the licensing process
Woman and man holding a contract

Types of Licenses

The licensing program is built to accommodate two types of clients:


Principal Clients

Clients who fall into this bucket are typically larger financial institutions who are experienced in risk underwriting, credit management, billing customers, and collecting payments. 

Benefits of becoming a principal client:

These clients work directly with Visa for product development and marketing. While there are service fees that are required, these clients have the most flexibility for the capabilities they are able to manage and are fully responsible for all activities associated with the assigned BIN.

These clients are typically high-volume banks and financial institutions that can also be listed in our partner directory to help expand your network.

Principal client capabilities

  • May issue cards
  • May disburse cash
  • May acquire merchants
  • Holds settlement risk
  • Hosts own processing
  • May sponsor others
  • Handles reporting (and sponsorees)
  • Pays ongoing fees (and sponsorees)
  • Directly licenses a BIN
  • Complies with Visa rules
  • Registers third party agents
  • Requires separate licenses to acquire point-of-sale (Brazil, Central Europe, Middle East and Asia)
  • Requires separate licenses to acquire Internet (Brazil, Central Europe, Middle East and Asia)

Associate Clients

Smaller financial institutions who operate with the assistance of a Principal for certain aspects, such as settlement, reporting, and fee payment.

Benefits of becoming an associate client:

These clients have full ownership of their licensing program, with the sponsorship of a principal client. 

These clients are typically smaller credit unions, startups, or other entities.                                                                      

Associate client capabilities

  • May issue cards
  • May disburse cash
  • May acquire merchants
  • Directly licenses a BIN
  • Complies with Visa rules
  • Registers third party agents
  • Requires separate licenses to acquire point-of-sale (Brazil, Central Europe, Middle East and Asia)
  • Requires separate licenses to acquire Internet (Brazil, Central Europe, Middle East and Asia)

Application Process

Visa’s licensing program simplifies your application process. The tool walks applicants through online questionnaires and includes the ability to ask Visa questions during each step of the process. Since each country has its own regulatory rules and regulations for licensing, you will need a license for each country in which you want to issue. But don’t worry. You only have to submit information once, and we will apply your application to as many countries in which you qualify to do business. Please note, some of the steps below may change based on the countries chosen, and could require additional documentation.

Apply

Create a Visa Partner account and on the dashboard, select "Apply for licensing".

Onboarding Questionnaire

Fill out all the necessary details including:

  • Copy of banking license or regulatory credentials
  • Audited financial statements for the past 3 years

Country Specific Forms

Based on the country you are applying for, the dashboard will update with additional forms, including:

  • Anti-money laundering questionnaire
  • Client licensing agreement
  • Sponsorship agreement (for associates only)

Approval

Once you are approved, you can start onboarding with Visa and enjoying the benefits of access to Visa’s vast global network.

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We’ll follow up with you – and guide you through your next steps.

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