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Visa Europe has signed a five-year contract to use network services provided by the British communications company BT Group PLC.

Visa Europe plans to move its transaction processing system to BT's Internet Protocol-based 21CN Global network. The card company did not give a value for the contract.

Visa Europe's system currently connects 4,600 member banks in 36 countries to its card processing platform. It said that moving to the BT network would offer increased security and faster throughput, and would enable it to provide additional services to issuers and merchants.

Steve Chambers, Visa Europe's chief information officer, said in a press release issued Monday: "Scalability and resilience go hand in hand for us. BT has given us the reliability, security and flexibility to successfully service our member banks and their customers."

Visa Europe, a membership association formed when Visa Inc. converted to a public company last October, has 350 million debit, credit, and commercial cards in force in 36 countries. Transactions it processed last year were worth $2.1 trillion.

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