Visa Europe CIO Steve Chambers delivers C21 payments platform

VisaEurope's new  pan-European payment authorisation platform went live at the start of 2007. The core of the platform is a BASE 24 framework, but CIO Steve Chambers maintains that what has since been built into it makes it unrecognisable as such.

He shares his company’s ambitions that the system becomes Europe’s de-facto card payments system, even though the European Commission is wary of handing so much financial power to one company.

“We are the only pan-European card payments system, owned and controlled by the European banks that is completely SEPA-compliant,” he says. “The European commission is still pushing for a third scheme [alongside Visa and Mastercard]. We would argue that we are the European payment scheme.

“This is a scale area. More smaller switches is less efficient than fewer huge switches.”

In June 2010, the last of the member banks who had agreed to adopt the system were switched over to the clearing and settlement systems.

There are still some member banks in mainland Europe that have not yet migra­ted to the new system, but Chambers bel­ieves they may do so as their existing technology reaches the end of its natural life.

In the meantime, he is concerned with making sure the platform he built will meet the demands of Visa’s customers.

“The performance of the system is an overwhelming priority for me,” he says. “We have to keep the volume of trans­actions competitive. Mastercard hands on a transaction at 140 milliseconds. We switch at 20. It’s getting to the stage where the retailer and the merchant bank is the impact point of the process.”

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