Visa Charges Into Acquisition Mode for PlaySpan

Credit card giant Visa has announced an agreement to acquire Santa Clara, California-based PlaySpan Inc for $190 million in cash, plus “additional consideration” for performance milestones.

According to the official word from Visa, PlaySpan is a private held company that has become a mover and shaker in the world of digital payments. The company’s payments platform accommodates transactions for digital goods in online games, digital media and social networks.

Within the eCommerce category, PlaySpan is a leader in the relatively new segment of digital goods, which generated an estimated $25 billion in consumer spending globally in 2010, a figure expected to reach $280 billion by 2014.

Visa’s acquisition builds upon last year’s similar purchase of CyberSource, which effectively extended Visa’s capabilities into one of the fastest-growing segments of eCommerce.

PlaySpan provides a Monetization-as-a-Service platform that allows merchants to monetize their content using a variety of payment and commerce-related solutions in fraud and risk management, analytics, merchandizing and global payment connectivity.

PlaySpan says merchants use their technology to enable consumers “to make safe and convenient purchases online for items such as game credits, premium memberships and digital goods.”

Visa’s acquisition of PlaySPan speaks to the credit card giant’s growing interest in global eCommerce sales, which topped $948 billion in 2010. At present, Visa reports approximately 45% of U.S. online spend already takes place on its network.

For Visa’s fiscal first quarter 2011, the company reported 25% year-over-year growth in eCommerce payment volumes globally.