Visa International has signed a €60m five-year contract with BT for a new Internet Protocol (IP) network for transaction processing throughout Central Europe, the Middle East and Africa (CEMEA).
The upgrade is part of Visa's global strategy to replace its legacy system network architecture (SNA) with IP and improve its two key applications: online authentication, and clearing and settlement services.
VisaNet, the company's transaction processing network, currently handles up to 5,000 transactions per second, and in excess of 35 billion transactions per year.
The new network will provide a transport platform linking all of Visa's member banks across the CEMEA region, as well as enabling the rapid development of services to these members.
The first phase of the network will link 265 member banks in 52 countries with completion planned for Autumn 2004.
It aims to enable the credit card giant to roll out new and improved services to member banks across the region with significant cost and performance benefits.
Raj Haider, head of payment services infrastructure at Visa International CEMEA, explained that the project faces "various challenges".
"The countries are so diversely spread and the same service can't be deployed everywhere. But with one vendor having sole responsibility instead of 40 to 50 vendors, managing the network won't be a headache," he said.
"There are lots of long-term benefits with more transactions, improved response time and better levels of service.
"The incumbent SNA had been in place for 25 years and maintenance costs can be passed on to improve resilience and service."
BT will supply several technical solutions. In countries where there is no online connectivity or poor infrastructure, alternatives such as satellite will be used.
Scotty Morgan, Visa account manager at BT, said: "We will take away the pain for Visa. For example, we will manage different regulatory issues in different countries.
"Compared to SNA, IP is more resilient and more meshed, so data can be moved more quickly."
BT already provides Visa with its IP network in the UK and won a contract last May with Visa EU to implement a new network across western Europe migrating VisaNet to the BT ignite MPLS service.
The findings can help improve the current understanding of brain development disorders, such as epilepsy or autism
Dubbed HD186302, the solar twin is located about 184 light-years from Earth
NASA releases a new image showing Jupiter's moon Io rising just off the horizon of the gas giant planet
The image was captured by Juno spacecraft in October during its 16th close flyby of the Jupiter
'Son of Concorde': Lockheed Martin and NASA start production of supersonic X-59 plane that would create a sound 'as loud as closing a car door'
When completed, the plane will travel at a speed of 1,512 kilometres per hour