Joseph Williams, the banker who developed the modern credit card, died on Nov. 8. Cause of death was not released. He was 88.
Williams was working at the San Francisco-based Bank of America in 1958 when he was selected to head the company’s new Consumer Services Research Department. There he developed the BankAmericard, the first credit card that could be used in any store in the U.S., for any kind of purchase.
The card also allowed the debt to be repaid in monthly installments, and gave customers a 30-day grace period to pay off the credit card’s balance without incurring interest fees. The Diners Club and American Express cards predated the BankAmericard, but they required all charges be paid within 30 days.
In 1966, the BankAmericard was licensed to banks in other states. It was eventually renamed Visa.