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Posted 3 Jul 2013

Visa – It’s Technology Where You Want to Be

, 3 Jul 2013 CPOL
This article offers a brief overview of Visa’s data network called VisaNet. It discusses the gargantuan amount of data that flows through Visa and how they deal with it.

Editorial Note

This article is in the Product Showcase section for our sponsors at CodeProject. These articles are intended to provide you with information on products and services that we consider useful and of value to developers.

To learn more about Visa technology, check out the Visa Developer Program.


Credit cards have been around since the late 1950’s, when the concept of revolving credit offered people a revolutionary way to pay. Then, in the mid-1970’s the success of these early cards went international, leading to the birth of Visa and its global processing backbone, VisaNet. By the 1980’s, Visa was truly "everywhere you want to be," allowing consumers to use their Visa cards for everyday transactions.

In today’s connected world with billions of cards in circulation and tens of millions of merchants accepting Visa, whether online, on mobile, at the point of sale, through ATMs, etc. -- Visa has evolved to meet the changing ways that consumers shop and pay for their goods and services.

As a result, Visa has become one of the most formidable names in interconnected financial systems. The technology needed to support those millions of merchants all over the world has to be extremely robust, reliable, and above all, secure. When you swipe, scan, or enter your Visa account number online, your payment immediately enters the Visa network, called VisaNet. VisaNet is the largest retail electronic payments system in the world, serving a wide range of customers from giant banks to mom-and-pop shops. Think about the application systems you work on every day, and let’s compare them to the mammoth scale of VisaNet. Consider the following facts:

The speed, reliability and scale of VisaNet is truly impressive. As a software developer who has run a number of large websites with 24/7 reliability expected, these numbers blow me away. In the past, my teams of engineers would spend months working to raise performance above more than a few hundred transactions a second. We didn’t have many servers or high powered databases on a lightning-fast network, and had to squeeze every ounce of performance from our puny infrastructure. VisaNet has overcome all of these and other challenges in it’s over 40 years of operations.

And what about the security of those transactions? A network of electronic payment services is a ripe target for a team of hackers or terrorists. Check out this video from Australian TV for a rare walkthrough of one of the fortress-like Visa operations centers.

Visa’s Operations Control East is hidden somewhere on the East Coast of the United States. They won’t tell us exactly where, but they have redundant EVERYTHING in this data center: power, network, cooling, and water.

Visa Operations Control East

Do you remember the movie "WarGames”? At the end of that movie, there is a dramatic scene in a military operations center with giant screens, and they play a giant game of tic-tac-toe against the rogue computer WOPR.

Visa has this operations center! Every transaction from around the world is monitored in real-time at Visa’s data centers. If your card is used in a manner that appears dubious, alerts are raised to the analysts in this room and they can take the steps to stop fraud and block your card from being misused again.

How can developers use Visa?

Payment service requirements are as diverse as developers themselves. You may be part of an in-house team that needs to integrate new services into your financial institution’s product portfolio. Or you may work for a payment hardware or software provider that wants to optimize the point of sale experience. Or maybe you’re creating an NFC-enabled wallet app for a mobile handset maker or carrier. Many developers just need to add a simple and reliable payment component to their eCommerce site, or mobile app, or game.

The Visa Developers program has the tools, resources, and support to help you tap the power of VisaNet and Visa’s vast array of products and services. If you’re new to the world of payments, they can help you learn more about it; in fact, you can experiment with some of Visa’s APIs and SDKs directly on the Visa Developers website. Although some products are for partners only, others such as and Visa Personal Payments, offer free access to their sandbox, so you can build and test your ideas in a ‘real’ system. The Visa Developers site is also a good entry point for access to Visa’s affiliates, like Authorize.Net for small to medium business solutions or PlaySpan for games and apps.

For decades, I’ve been trusting Visa with all of my personal transactions. Now that I know they have a powerhouse technology platform sitting behind their payment services, as a developer I want to learn more about what that means for my professional projects and clients. Join me in signing up for their developer program and get started with services that you know you can trust.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Jeffrey T. Fritz
Program Manager
United States United States
Jeffrey is a software developer coach, architect, and speaker in the Microsoft.Net community. He currently works as a program manager for the Microsoft .NET Developer Outreach group. He has delivered training videos on Pluralsight, WintellectNow, and on YouTube. Jeffrey makes regular appearances delivering keynotes, workshops, and breakout sessions at conferences such as TechEd, Ignite, DevIntersection, CodeStock, FalafelCon, VSLive as well as user group meetings in an effort to grow the next generation of software developers.

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