Visa, the world's largest credit and debit card company, reported a better than expected 9% rise in quarterly profit as more people used cards instead of cash to make payments.

The company also said it would continue to work to make card payments more secure as concerns mount over the safety of debit and credit cards.

Last month Target, the third largest retailer in the US, said about 40 million credit card records and 70 million other records containing data on its customers were stolen in a security breach.

"Visa is committed to ensuring our network operates at the highest level of security available and will continue to move the industry towards the adoption of new safeguards," chief executive Charlie Scharf said today.

One of the safeguards that Visa and MasterCard have been pushing for is to get banks to issue cards with an embedded chip to hold information, rather than rely on the easily-copied magnetic strips that are widely used now.

Visa said today that its net income rose 9% to $1.41 billion in the first quarter from $1.29 billion a year earlier.

Total operating revenue increased 11% to $3.16 billion in the quarter ended December 31.

Visa said total volume grew about 7% to $1.84 trillion, helped by strong Christmas sales in the US.