Dee Hock, Credit Card Visionary, Is Dead at 93

Dee Hock, a banker with a junior school diploma who formed the Visa bank card into a worldwide monetary behemoth, died on July 16 at his house in Olympia, Wash. He was 93.

His son David confirmed the loss of life.

The bank card enterprise was in an early, rocky stage of improvement in 1966 when Mr. Hock was named to run the bank card division of National Bank of Commerce in Seattle, which was licensed by Bank of America to difficulty its BankAmericard.

At the time, the enterprise was beset by unhealthy money owed and fraud, and the playing cards themselves have been primitive: (*93*) lacked the magnetic stripes that may later encode buyer data; transactions that required financial institution authorizations took a very long time; and the embossed data on them — buyer title, card quantity, expiration date — was awkwardly copied onto receipts with a heavy imprinter.

“By 1968, I used to be extraordinarily involved that the trade may go below and our financial institution’s funding with it,” Mr. Hock advised Plazm, an arts and politics journal primarily based in Portland, Ore., in 2013. “I used to be attending a gathering of the entire licensees of BofA, which quickly turned a shambles of argument and accusations.”

He turned the chief of a committee of bankers whose establishments licensed the BankAmericard, which was first issued in 1958. The panel’s mission: to find out the cardboard’s future. (The American Express card made its debut that very same yr; eight years earlier, Diners Club had issued what’s extensively thought of the primary bank card.)

The committee’s answer was to create a brand new firm, National BankAmericard, to be separated from Bank of America and to be managed by the banks that issued the cardboard. Mr. Hock was named president and chief govt. In 1976, after an in-house contest, the corporate was renamed Visa.

As chief govt, he oversaw the event of the primary digital authorization system and the primary interbank digital clearing and settlement system. Banks would difficulty the playing cards, not Visa, they usually have been mandated so as to add the magnetic stripe to their playing cards.

“Dee Hock realized one thing within the late Sixties that few others actually understood: Computers and telecommunications would quickly make it potential to construct a worldwide ‘digital worth trade’ system that may quickly allow prospects to pay for items and providers ‘wherever you wish to be ,’” David Stearns, the writer of “Electronic Value Exchange: Origins of the VISA Electronic Payment System” (2011), wrote in an electronic mail. (The firm renders its title in all capital letters.)

In a tribute, Alfred Kelly Jr., the chief govt of Visa, wrote that Mr. Hock had a imaginative and prescient of “a world of frictionless commerce the place anybody, wherever might trade worth 24 hours a day, seven days per week, with absolute reliability.”

That imaginative and prescient, lengthy since realized, has made Visa the world’s main bank card community, with 3.9 billion playing cards issued and a complete buy quantity of $13 trillion.

“What he did was plain: He made bank cards work,” Joe Nocera, a former New York Times columnist who wrote about Mr. Hock in his guide “A Piece of the Action: How the Middle Class Joined the Money Class” (1994), stated in a cellphone interview. “He took a system on the point of collapse and stated, ‘Follow me, I’ll take you to the promised land.'”

Dee Ward Hock was born on March 21, 1929, in North Ogden, Utah. His father, Alma, was a utility lineman. His mom, Cecil (Dawson) Hock, was a homemaker.

As a boy, Dee turned enamored of the biology and ecology round him in rural Utah, however he adopted a banker’s profession monitor after graduating in 1949 from the two-year Weber State College (now University) in Ogden.

Over the subsequent 17 years, Mr. Hock was the supervisor of two branches of the financial institution Pacific Finance; an assistant supervisor of public relations and promoting for Pacific; basic supervisor of the Columbia Investment Company; and a supervisor at CIT Financial (now Group). He was employed by the National Bank of Commerce in 1966. But earlier than becoming a member of it, he had “primarily retired on the job,” his son stated in an interview.

“When individuals left him alone, he was normally probably the most profitable a part of the group,” David Hock added. “But when they wished to repair it, they normally messed it up.”

Energized by his work at Visa, Mr. Hock moved the corporate into providing fdebit playing cards, which gave cardholders entry to checking accounts, in addition to a premium card and a money-market fund.

“Mr. Hock is an impressive strategist, possibly even good,” Helene Duffy, a guide within the subject of digital funds switch, advised The Times in 1981. “He has all the time been decided to have Visa be the premier cost system, and has not deviated from that primary purpose.”

In addition to his son David, Mr. Hock is survived by a daughter, Lynette Elze; seven grandchildren; and 7 great-grandchildren. His spouse, Ferol (Cragun) Hock, died in 2018. Another son, Steven, died in 2012.

At Visa, Mr. Hock inspired innovation and experimentation — amongst its workers and among the many banks that licensed the bank card. Rather than operating the corporate below a conventional hierarchical administration system, he sought enter from the underside up.

It was an apt approach of managing a enterprise whose member banks compete towards one another for patrons however at the identical time should cooperate to make Visa work successfully. But, he conceded to Fast Company journal in 1996, Visa applied solely about 25 p.c of what he known as his “chaordic” idea of administration — a stability of chaos and order.

That idea, as he defined it, applies to organizations and companies the place energy is extensively distributed. He wrote two books about it, “Birth of the Chaordic Age” (1999) and “One From Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization” (1999).

Mr. Hock resigned from Visa in 1984 to grow to be a rancher, however eight years later he started consulting organizations about his chaotic concepts.

In “One From Many,” he recalled talking to teams and asking them what they thought was a very powerful duty of a supervisor.

All the solutions, he wrote, have been “downward trying — having to do with train of authority, with choosing workers, motivating them, coaching them, appraising them, organizing them, directing them and controlling them.”

He added: “That notion is totally mistaken. In chaordic organizations, it have to be stood on its head, because it ought to in all organizations.”

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