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Direct Exchange: Faster, Better, Cheaper

Visa Officially Rolls Out Streamlined Network

Visa USA (San Francisco) announced the completion of its revamped payments network, Direct Exchange. The result of five years of work, Direct Exchange is designed to give Visa's member banks and merchants a more direct connection to the VisaNet payments network. Direct Exchange replaces a legacy system of access points based on a mainframe architecture with a more simplified model that uses Internet-based technology.

"The former network was proprietary," says John Partridge, CEO of Inovant, a division of Visa that handles processing and technology development. "It used multiple lease lines and multiple connections."

With Direct Exchange, users instead connect directly to VisaNet, thereby saving money and reducing the time to process payments, according to Partridge. Authorization time will be cut from over two seconds to 1.4 seconds -- quite a difference to a consumer standing in line at the store, he says.

"We've gone from thousands of connections down to a single connection to Visa," he says. "This reduces the time it takes for Visa to deliver products to the marketplace. With the old system, whenever we wanted to change something, we had to physically make the changes to each access point. Now we can do this remotely."

Partridge says that much of Direct Exchange was built using technology from other companies. For example, the system is based upon Cisco (San Jose, Calif.) networking technology, and the Internet component uses IBM's (Armonk, N.Y.) WebSphere architecture as its foundation. "This helps us become a technology integrator rather than a developer," he says.

Among the benefits to users are:

  • A reduction in transaction authorization time.
  • The delivery of enhanced information on individual transactions to enable better monitoring of transaction flows and more customized services.
  • Speedier resolution of cardholder disputes with Visa Resolve Online, the company's Web-based tool for conducting the dispute process that eliminates costly and time-consuming paperwork.
  • Boosted speed and throughput of transactions processing, handling over 170 file types of various sizes that users transmit to Visa while maintaining data security and accuracy.
The company expects to announce other VisaNet-related services in June.

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