Michael P. Duffy, who helped make JPMorgan Chase & Co. one of the largest U.S. processors of credit card and electronic payments as head of its Dallas-based Chase Paymentech unit, has died. He was 54.

He died Thursday at a hospital in Dallas after battling cancer and other illnesses, according to Paul Hartwick, a spokesman for the Manhattan-based bank.

Duffy "was a brilliant leader, pioneer in the payment industry and fierce competitor," Gordon Smith, CEO of consumer and community banking at JPMorgan, said Friday in a message to employees. "His passion and tenacity was exemplified in so many aspects of his life, from his battles against personal illness to how he led his team and established Paymentech as a global industry leader."

With 25 years in the payments industry, Duffy was early in recognizing the potential growth for processing online transactions, according to a biography provided by JPMorgan. He established for the bank exclusive processing agreements with PayPal and BillMeLater, now owned by San Jose, Calif.-based eBay Inc.

"He was very much an innovator and was at the forefront of early e-commerce in the mid-1990s," Rick Oglesby, an industry analyst at Aite Group LLC in Boston, said in an interview.

Chase Paymentech processed 29.5 billion online transactions worth $655.2 billion, or half of all Internet transactions last year, according to JPMorgan. The bank ranks No. 3 in the United States among payments processors after Bank of America Corp. and First Data Corp., and ranks No. 4 globally, according to the Nilson Report, a Carpinteria, Calif.-based industry newsletter.

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Duffy, a native of Dallas, earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the State University of New York at Albany and a master's in business administration from the University of St. Thomas in Houston.

Early in his career he held leadership roles with Equifax Credit Information Services and Equifax Credit Bureau Marketing, according to the bio provided by JPMorgan. He joined Litle & Co., a credit-card processor for "card-not-present transactions," becoming chief financial officer. That company was acquired by Paymentech in 1995, where he rose to chief operating officer and then president and CEO.

JPMorgan, through a predecessor, Bank One, formed a joint venture with Paymentech in 1997, and in 2008 the payments processor became a unit of the bank, according to its website.

Dan Charron, who assumed some of Duffy's duties while he was ill, will become acting head of Paymentech, Smith said.