It hopes the new IP infrastructure will enable it to increase its processing capability and card security systems.
According to Visa, the existing SNA-based VisaNet is able process up to 5,000 transactions per second and handles 35 billion transactions a year.
But Visa anticipates transaction levels to escalate in the coming years. John Chaplin, executive vice-president for Visa EU said, "The upgrade will not only future-proof our system in terms of processing capability and reliability, but it will also mean we can roll out strategically important new Web-based services to our member banks."
BT is building the new IP network, which will involve installing and running IP network components alongside the existing SNA networks within Visa's European member centre. Work is expected to reach completion by the end of 2003, and under the terms of the present contract BT will continue to manage the network through to June 2005.
According to BT, the upgrade will replace Frame Relay access devices (FRADs) with Cisco IP routers and switches, creating a permanent virtual circuit (PVC) to route information through Visa's member locations around Europe.
BT said it would also be building a fail-safe system in each country based on ISDN.