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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

The Card-Smart CIO

Karthik Sundaram
Sunday, October 27, 2002
Karthik Sundaram
INDER P. SINGH WAS RECENTLY NAMED THE global CIO of Visa International, the leading credit card company. “Visa is driving towards a new level of processing capability, and Inder brings the experience and leadership to make it happen,” stated Malcolm Williamson, President and CEO of Visa International. What does the role of a global CIO of a globally operational company demand? “VisaNet is a processing system delivering secure, reliable payments—any time, anywhere, any way. Currently, it is capable of handling 5,000 transactions per second. We are stepping this up. Last year alone, more than $5 billion worth of transactions occurred per day. We are speeding this up, too. As the CIO, I need to ensure that all this happens,” says Singh.

With over 21,000 member financial institutions spread over 130 countries, Singh faces the challenge of maintaining a system that has a uniform base while giving each of the company's regional divisions autonomy to operate under its own rules and local regulations. The key to making sure that such a geographically diverse operation is successful is to drive the power down to the individual regions, Singh says. To that end, the company looks at open systems and modern object-oriented programming with a tiered CNC and C++ architecture.

Although the means of processing transactions has to be tailored to each region, Visa's mainframes and its ability to process transactions globally and approve sales must also be uniform, he said.“How we do storage doesn't have to change,” Singh says. “The security infrastructure doesn't have to change. How we communicate doesn't have to change.” But local government regulations regarding transactions might be different, and local IT and telecommunications infrastructures could require specific solutions. To accommodate those variations, the applications, which are built to work with the wider VisaNet, are shipped to local regions, where companies “can change the application to their heart's content,” he said, knowing it will still work within the wider network. It then becomes a template Visa can take from region to region, still allowing individual divisions the flexibility they need to be competitive, Singh says. He will be responsible for coordinating IT processes and standards in four strategic directions:
• Ensure global interoperability of all Visa technology
• Maintain global service standards for transaction processing and data management

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