What is Visa?; What is Master? These are questions that would have occurred to us, as card users, at some point of time or the other in our long history of card based shopping in Singapore. Fortunately, not getting an answer to these questions does not stop us from doing what we can do and continue to do with our respective cards. It is so because, fundamentally, Visa and Master are not different, or at least not so different in what they are, so as to significantly impact our card usage.

At the fundamental level, they both are systems that offer the framework of rules, guidelines etc pertaining to the card’s usage in the market. They act as regulatory bodies that lay down the ground rules for all cards. Yes, all cards in the world, even the cards that we use in Singapore, roughly fall into either of these categories — VISA or MasterCard.

Master and Visa Card
 Visa and MasterCard


MasterCard was founded in 1966 and is headquartered in New York  while Visa, Visa International Service Association, was founded in 1970 and is headquartered in San Francisco. Historically both have had different preferences in terms of the region focus. While one concentrated within the US the other would look world wide, and vice versa, in turns. It continued for so long that now there is hardly any difference in terms of either regional or global presence. Visa and MasterCard, though started locally, are now a global phenomena.


As payment processing networks and systems, that lay the underlying framework for card usage with relation to the merchant and the user, they also have their own security measures, associated with their respective cards.

  • Visa- Verified by Visa scheme is Visa’s way of offering their card users protection. Online shopping when done using a Visa card, is securer when done with the ‘Verified by Visa’ scheme.


  • MasterCard- MasterCard’s “SecureCode” is Master’s way of offering online security to its cards users.


Though there used to be a decent amount of discussion over the acceptability of these cards, Visa and Master, over the years the way these two systems have grown makes the discussion redundant now. Now, there is no place in the world where one is present while the other is not.

Individual  Merchants too, do not discriminate between, Visa and Master, and they do so to keep their options wider, or at least that is the approach in Singapore. In rare cases like that of the Dollar General Club, where VISA is accepted but not the MasterCard, it only is a reminder of their old differences and nothing else.