What does Association mean?
An association is an organization owned by bank card issuing financial institutions. These institutions set common transaction conditions for issuers, acquirers and merchants. The association also performs operational functions for its members, including authorizations and transaction processing, fee processing and interchange settlements.
VISA and MasterCard are two of the best known national bank card associations, they have become publicly-traded companies. However there are many regional credit card associations, that are often owned by a single bank or consortium; these smaller organizations issue more retail credit cards.