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Visa profits rise 27% as pandemic wanes and economies open

FILE This Aug. 11, 2019, file photo shows a Visa logo on a credit card in New Orleans. Visa’s fiscal first-quarter profits rose 27%, as improving econ...

FILE This Aug. 11, 2019, file photo shows a Visa logo on a credit card in New Orleans. Visa’s fiscal first-quarter profits rose 27%, as improving econ...

NEW YORK (AP) — Visa's fiscal first-quarter profits rose 27%, as improving economies worldwide, as well as more people using digital payments, helped lift the company's fortunes.

The San Francisco-based company said Thursday that it earned $3.96 billion, or $1.81 a share, in the final three months of 2021, up from a profit of $3.13 billion, or $1.42 a share, in the same period a year ago. The results easily topped Wall Street's forecasts.

Visa brought in slightly more than $7 billion in revenue in the quarter, a record for the company.

Most of the revenue gain came from a hefty 17% jump in the amount of money spent on its payment network last quarter to a record $3.63 trillion. Visa earns a fee from each payment that crosses its network, either on traditional credit and debit cards or in digital payments.

Like other companies during the pandemic, Visa has seen more people worldwide shift routine purchases to online stores and merchants. That's been good for Visa's bottom line, and helped make up for the loss of travel-related spending that usually accounts for a good portion of the money spent on its network.

“As we look ahead, we do not believe the current surge in the pandemic will curtail the recovery,” said Al Kelly, the CEO of Visa, in a statement. “We see economies around the world continuing to improve and, as restrictions are lifted, cross-border travel will continue to recover."

While still not at pre-pandemic levels, travel did recover significantly in the quarter. The company had a 50% jump in cross-border payments volume, it said.

Visa's shares were up 5% in extended trading following the release of the earnings report.