TECH and Internet titans were the first to reach $1 trillion in stock market value, but the next US companies that could do so are better known for their plastic.

Soaring stock prices are propelling credit and debit card companies Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc up the market value charts, where they currently rank 7th and 11th among companies in the benchmark S&P 500 index.

The stock prices of both Visa and Mastercard would each be worth over $1 trillion 2023 if their average annual gains of the past three years were to continue, surging past the likes of Facebook Inc and Berkshire Hathaway Inc, if they also maintain their recent pace.

Fuelling their rise is a shift towards cashless financial transactions spurred by a rise in online shopping.

''Everything travels on their rails,'' said Sandy Villere. portfolio manager of the Villere Balanced Fund, which holds Visa shares. ''They literally sit in the middle of the banks, consumers and merchants and that has been a really enviable place to be.''

Visa had a market value of $449 billion and Mastercard's stood at about $324 billion as of Thursdays close.

The $1 trillion club currently includes Apple Inc, Microsoft and Google-parent Alphabet.

Amazon.com stood at $927 billion, though the e-commerce leader's shares jumped on the heels of its earning report on Thursday after the bell, putting it in a position to crack $1 trillion, as it did briefly in September 2018.

Revenue for both Visa and Mastercard nearly doubled over the their past five fiscal years, to nearly $23 billion for Visa, and about $17 billion for Mastercard, according to Refinitiv data. Adjusted earning per share more than doubled for both companies over that period.

Visa reported quarterly revenue late on Thursday that slightly missed analyst estimates, a day after Mastercard beat quarterly profit estimates.

About 43pc of consumer purchases around the world excluding China are made using a digital form of payment, up from 28pc in 2010 according Lisa Ellis, senior analyst at MoffettNathanson.

The companies are not sitting still. Earlier this month Visa agreed to buy privately held Plaid Inc in a $5.3 billion deal to boost access to financial technology, and in August Mastercard agreed to buy a majority of the corporate services businesses of Scandinavian payments group Nets for about $3.19 billion. [Reuters]


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