Dee Hock, the visionary founder of Visa Inc. who built a system for modern electronic payments infrastructure that transformed how money changes hands, died this weekend at 93. While Hock’s name may not be well-known, his impact is felt by anyone who has made or received a card payment. Modern shoppers take for granted the nearly instantaneous speed of card payments online or at a store counter, but reaching that point required vast technological innovation as well as unprecedented coordination between rival banks.
current chief executive, Al Kelly, expressed as much in a tribute to Hock on Wednesday, writing that the Visa founder was “not a household name beyond the world of financial services” even though “in many ways, his impact and influence surpass that of almost any other leader in the last half-century.” Hock came from a different background than many other prominent finance executives, growing up as one of six children in a poor Utah family. He attended Weber Junior College, now known as Weber State University, on a $50 annual scholarship and then married his childhood sweetheart, according to Paul Chutkow’s “The Power of an Idea,” which chronicles Visa’s history. Hock didn’t create the first credit cards, but he began working in the business at a time when there were serious doubts about their future. Early card programs were rife with fraud and internally maligned, to the point whe …