As part of its semiannual software update, Visa now provides its Member financial institutions the ability to manage their consumer credit card portfolios - including rewards offerings - at the individual account level, matching individual offers with specific consumer needs and interests. Visa has also introduced the ability to provide real-time substantiation of qualified, over-the-counter medical expense purchases made with a Visa employee benefit debit card.
The upgrades to VisaNet, the world's largest payment network, took place simultaneously across Visa's five global data centers. The business release changed 1.5 million lines of code while Visa's payment system continued to process transactions at an average rate of 3,500 transaction messages per second. Semiannual upgrades focus on providing increases in operational efficiency, expansion of technology capabilities, and support for innovative new products and services.
"The demands of Visa cardholders never stop changing, so we never stop improving and expanding the technology that is at the core of Visa's value," said John Partridge, CEO of Inovant LLC, Visa's IT organization responsible for global transactions processing and technology development. "Despite the fact that these are massive undertakings, in terms of complexity and time to prepare, we pride ourselves on implementing them smoothly without a single minute of downtime that could affect our Members and cardholders."
For this round of updates, Visa has invested more than $31 million related to 32 discrete projects, involving nearly 280,000 hours of work by programmers, testers, analysts, designers, and managers who spent the last 12 months preparing for the release.
Among the most significant changes, the revised VisaNet system will:
• Support the ability to use the full 16-digit card number for identifying whether a particular Visa Traditional or Visa Traditional Rewards consumer credit cardholder's transaction would benefit from a program or service offered by the merchant or Issuing financial institution. This provides tremendous possibilities for Issuers to personalize rewards and other programs to the needs of individual cardholders rather than larger groups.
• Enable real-time substantiation of qualified, over-the-counter medical expense purchases made with a Visa employee benefit debit card at supermarkets, discount stores, and other merchants. By validating qualified medical purchases at the point-of-sale, the auto-substantiation capability eliminates the need for plan administrators to seek receipts from covered consumers after an expense is paid, saving time and paperwork for both plan administrators and cardholders.
• Provide a global implementation of Visa Resolve Online (VROL), which streamlines the process of handling disputed transactions. By providing better access to transaction data online in a Member's back office, VROL can help settle disputes much faster, usually within a single billing cycle.
During its long history of adding new services and enhancing its technology with releases every six months, Visa has streamlined the improvement process to provide Member financial institutions and other payment providers with a predictable timetable for making necessary changes to their systems.
During the last two years, the size and scope of the changes have grown exponentially as Visa has accelerated its ability to develop and deploy new value-added services for Members, merchants, and cardholders. This October's Business Enhancement Release is even more complex than last April's release, which set yet another record for the number of changes made to the VisaNet system. Visa anticipates several more years of complex enhancements as it continues upgrading its technology to meet the ever-growing demand for electronic payments and support the widespread use of new types of payment cards and technologies.
"To make these kinds of changes every six months, like clockwork, is a testament not only to Visa's leadership in the payments industry but to the talent and dedication of the people at Visa," Partridge said. "They have built the kind of flexible and secure payment platform that allows Visa to deliver innovative products and services."