Visa Advances Cardholder Security Through Improved Fraud Detection

Upgrades to Visa’s global processing platform have allowed Visa to develop new fraud models

January 7, 2011

4 Min Read


January 6, 2011 – Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) today announced significant improvements to its security capabilities which will dramatically improve its ability to detect and prevent global electronic payments fraud. Upgrades to Visa’s global processing platform – VisaNet – have allowed Visa to develop new fraud models that enhance the speed and accuracy with which Visa detects attempted payment card fraud. An analysis of past global transactions suggests Visa’s enhancements could help identify $1.5 billion in fraud, representing a 29 percent performance improvement from 2009. In particular, fraud detection rates on the riskiest transactions improved by 122% over the previous model.

This dramatic increase in fraud identification is the result of an enhancement to the underlying processing platform that powers Visa’s Advanced Authorization – an industry-leading security technology that analyzes and scores every Visa transaction for its fraud potential. A new operating system implemented earlier this year allows more information to be analyzed at once and performs more complex processing functions in milliseconds. This provides Visa with a comprehensive view into the global payments system, leading to high levels of intelligence around spending patterns and improving the company’s ability to detect and prevent fraud in near real-time.

As a result, Visa and financial institutions that issue electronic payments cards will be able to more finely target different types of fraud – even as they emerge – enabling issuers to better isolate fraudulent transactions from legitimate ones. The global improvements were made on all models evaluating Visa transactions.

“The growth of digital currency has yielded vast benefits to consumers, merchants and entire economies around the world. Continued success requires that every time a consumer uses their Visa card, there’s confidence that the purchase will be convenient and secure,” said Jim McCarthy, Global Product Executive, Visa Inc. “That’s why Visa continues to make investments to make our network among the most secure in the world. Now, these enhancements to our system will enable us to work with issuing financial institutions to deliver on that promise with more speed and reliability than ever before. So cardholders are more secure and merchants see improved throughput – legitimate purchases approved and fraudulent ones declined.”

Visa Advanced Authorization risk scores are based on a global view of fraud and spending patterns across the entire Visa network. Because VisaNet processes more electronic card payments globally than other networks, Visa has a unique capability to identify fraud on individual accounts and coordinated attacks on multiple accounts across the system, enabling an issuer to potentially stop fraud at the check-out, before it occurs. Examples of how Visa’s investments enhance fraud reduction capabilities:

* Visa Advanced Authorization is better able to detect “high speed fraud,” where criminals attempt multiple transactions within a very short time period – minutes or even seconds apart. Because Visa’s network is not only able to process thousands of transactions per second, but also instantly recall and analyze millions of pieces of information in its memory, Visa is able to identify emerging fraud trends as they happen – not hours or days later.

* A new cross-border model takes advantage of Visa’s unrivaled global transaction perspective to increase fraud detection for transactions occurring outside a cardholder’s home country. By being able to build “models-within-models,” Visa is able to better focus on specific transactions types, fraud types and Visa product types. The new modeling capabilities are so powerful that it allows Visa to detect more than three times the amount of fraudulent cross-border fraud than previously identified.

VisaNet is the foundation of Visa Advanced Authorization, providing a modular processing platform that is able to handle more than 20,000 transactions per second and an unprecedented amount of processing memory to track emerging fraud trends as they occur. As Visa processes more transactions, the data helps further enhance the models over time and better identify potential fraud across the entire network.

According to McCarthy, fraud rates within the Visa system remain flat, having fallen to historic low levels. “Visa’s continuous investments in the most sophisticated fraud-fighting systems have helped us to stay a step ahead of the criminals.”

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About Visa Inc.: Visa Inc. is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency. Underpinning digital currency is one of the world’s most advanced processing networks—VisaNet—that is capable of handling more than 10,000 transactions a second, with fraud protection for consumers and guaranteed payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank, and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa’s innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: Pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit

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