Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints


Jan 12, 2011

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Visa Transactions Hit Peak on Dec. 23

While most people are out celebrating the holidays, come Thanksgiving you’ll find my team hunkered down in front of a bank of computer screens 24/7.  No, they’re not online doing their holiday shopping but rather monitoring Visa’s authorization system.  That’s because the holiday season is when VisaNet, our global transaction processing network, faces its greatest demands as millions of people head to the mall or their favorite online retailers, relying on Visa to handle their payments.

We have various metrics to assess our systems’ performance. One critical data point is transaction messages per second processed through VisaNet. And, while popular lore has it that Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, December 23rd  beat all our previous records. On that day, VisaNet processed an average of almost 11,000 transactions a second during the busiest minute of the year.

And while our processing levels were truly impressive, I’m equally happy that 2010 marked the 18th consecutive peak season that VisaNet was available 100 percent of the time.

Reliability and security are the cornerstones of our brand promise, and we take that responsibility seriously.  In fact, we go to great lengths to ensure VisaNet has the scale and flexibility to deliver on our promise—anywhere, anytime someone in the world wants to pay.

To keep up with the increasing demand for Visa digital currency, we upgrade our global network twice a year to deliver unsurpassed network reliability, security and capacity.  The system is also optimized to handle new kinds of merchants and payment methods including online and mobile channels. Finally, we celebrate “Christmas in August” by conducting specialized stress-testing to ensure we can handle transaction volumes well beyond actual anticipated peak season rates. 

During the 2010 stress test, which took place at a secure testing facility in Virginia last summer, VisaNet processed more than 24,000 transaction messages a second with no degradation of transaction quality or security. That’s enough capacity for more than twice our actual peak season volume and one of the main reasons I could relax a bit and enjoy the holidays! The video below captured the stress test as it happened.

Posted by: Manny Trillo, Head of Global Transaction Services on January 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm