Visa is building new processing centers to handle global data deluge

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Visa is developing its first international transaction processing centers — one in the U.K. and one in Singapore — on the heels of other moves to accelerate digital payments growth globally.

Expanding its data processing footprint to a more global presence is "part of the overall vision we have to continue to invest to make sure our infrastructure continues to have resiliency and can scale up and out," said Rajat Taneja, executive vice president of technology and operations at Visa. Its only other data centers are in North America.

For security reasons, Visa will not disclose the precise locations of the new 10,000-square-foot data centers, but the card brand expects them to begin accepting transactions from some areas and partner banks in 2018 before becoming fully operational at some point during the year.

Merging with Visa Europe a year ago was a significant factor in strengthening the VisaNet global network, Taneja said. In acquiring Visa Europe, the company said it stood to benefit from bringing 3,200 European clients onto VisaNet while also advancing on the many innovations unfolding in Europe.

In addition, Visa has opened its network to third-party app developers for the first time, and established Visa Checkout as a one-click e-commerce payment option. Its landmark agreement last year with PayPal to spark even more Visa transactions online is also likely to expand its data processing needs.

Taking all of those developments into account, Visa needed to give its digital transaction processing capabilities a major boost. Visa has been planning for the new data centers for several years, Taneja said.

"This is an overall vision we created for the next generation of payments," he added. "All of these are pieces of our strategy encompassing our views on software and open architecture, and it's all about transforming our technology for this digital era."

That means Visa will be busy in the coming months preparing the data centers for operation, starting with industrial cooling and power supplies, which involve a complex network of backup generators and power subsystems.

"We have layers and layers of resiliency built into the system" prior to installing physical cabling and network connections, Taneja said. After that, Visa will deploy the transaction processing software.

"We will have more than 300 applications running at any given time to do the processing of credit, debit, prepaid, Visa Checkout and other digital commerce apps," Taneja added.

It is no coincidence that the new centers are located in areas where Visa recently established research hubs, but they are not designed just to serve those parts of the globe.

"We are investing significantly in these locations, but they benefit our global structure and, collectively, are greater than the sum of the components," Taneja said.

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