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Global XML Invoice Specification

Visa International Introduces New XML Specification to Meet Information Needs of the Global Commercial Card Market.

New Visa Global XML Invoice Specification will provide valuable purchase information, enabling corporate users to lower costs and maximize operational efficiencies.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA. February 9, 2000.

Visa International has introduced a new specification that will dramatically increase a corporation's ability to automate business-to-business (B2B) purchasing functions and monitor travel and entertainment (T&E) expenses worldwide - both on the Internet and in the physical world.

The new Visa Global Invoice Specification uses Extensible Markup Language (XML) to exchange invoice and payment data across industries and technical processing platforms. Implementation of the specification enables corporations to negotiate prices and control costs, as well as increase productivity by eliminating manual processes. It is being introduced to encourage its adoption as an open standard in the global commercial marketplace.

The new Visa Global XML Invoice Specification was developed with Visa technology partners Commerce One, IBM, Sun Microsystems, Inc. and ValiCert, Inc. These partners provided Visa with an extensive review, validating Visa's efforts to use XML technology and supporting Visa's contribution to the buyer / supplier value chain of enhanced data.

"IBM is pleased to have worked with Visa on the development of this innovative invoice specification which will help optimize business-to-business procurement," said Marie Wieck, Director of XML Technology, IBM Corp. "Open XML-based standards are essential as companies integrate their key business processes with the web to ensure ubiquitous access to their network of e-business partners."

Visa is committed to promote the specification with software and system developers. With its use, corporate clients will have a standard way to process detailed information on procurement transactions, as well as T&E spending on airline travel, hotels and car rental.

In the near future, Visa plans to expand the specification to support other merchant sectors including healthcare, maintenance, repair & operations (MRO) and fleet services. Visa International, with over 12 million Visa Purchasing, Visa Business and Visa Corporate cards in the global market, has seen 40% annual growth in the past three years and is the market leader within the procurement and purchasing card sector.

"We are confident that the Visa Global XML Invoice Specification will expand the success of Visa Commercial card programs by empowering corporate suppliers and buyers of goods and services worldwide to run their business more efficiently," said Alistair Duncan, vice president of Information Delivery at Visa International. "The global interoperability of the new specification enhances national and multinational corporations' use of Visa's commercial products."

Visa is also supporting the global invoice needs of buyers and sellers around the world who choose to use the specification for their own invoice processing and payment services. This means that developers may use the specification independent of the payment brand and can integrate multiple payment types into their data-flow processes.

The Visa Global XML Invoice Specification may be used by any system developer seeking a standard and interoperable definition for processing invoice data using XML. It provides a cross-industry, interoperable message format which enables processing of enhanced data across regions and industry sectors and, as clients identify new needs, it can easily be extended and adapted to support additional information needs.

Visa has compiled a comprehensive list of data elements used in most invoices and has classified them into the following information areas: Buyer/Supplier, Shipping, Tax, Payment, Currency, Discount, and Line Item Detail. Visa can also deliver the XML invoice data across VisaNet., Visa's global network.

As the growth of e-commerce has exploded, Visa is playing a leadership role in both the consumer and commercial B2B markets to establish common standards and platforms to promote the growth and ubiquity of powerful new payment channels. Examples of these efforts include: Open Platform; Common Electronic Purse Specification (CEPS); EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) standard for chip, credit and debit cards; SET (Secure Electronic Transaction) and the new Visa Global Invoice Specification based on XML.

Duncan also notes, "The Visa Global XML Invoice Specification represents our commitment to being the first to market in this arena and once again demonstrates our leadership in commercial commerce."

In e-business and e-commerce, XML will be the cross-platform data format standard. XML will be the ubiquitous artery for inter-company transactions that link diverse platforms and legacy systems.

Essentially, XML is the HTML of business systems. Just as all browsers can process HTML universally, business systems will be able to process XML data files. XML could take the place of many specialized or proprietary formats as it allows for broad acceptance and expansion as needed. The Visa Global XML Invoice Specification means anyone needing to send or receive an invoice can use Visa's single specification instead of many specialized, inflexible and limited formats.

Visa used the Commerce One Common Business Library (xCBL) as the foundation for the Visa Global XML Invoice Specification and is working with several international XML governing bodies, including ebXML, for its official adoption as a standard. Other international standards organizations include Oasis/, and Microsoft BizTalk.

Visa will work with Members worldwide to install the new Visa Global XML Invoice Specification and has conducted a pilot project in the European Union which has successfully proved that the specification can accommodate the information collection and delivery needs of all commercial users.

The Visa Global XML Specification is available on the Visa web site, To learn more about Visa Enhanced Data Services and XML and to review the Visa Global XML Invoice Specification, visit

Visa International's Commercial Product Platforms Division offers tailored commercial payment solutions for its member banks and corporate clients globally. Visa International is experiencing 40% annual growth rates across its commercial card product lines. There are more than 12 million Visa commercial cards issued globally. Visa International's three commercial card programs, Visa Business, Visa Purchasing and Visa Corporate respectively focus on: the payment needs of small businesses; the procurement needs of medium to large firms; and the travel and entertainment expenses of medium to large firms.

Visa's Commercial Product Platforms Division is also at the leading edge of expanding product platforms and integrating enhanced data, new technologies and delivery channels to meet changing commercial market needs. Visa's business-to-business e-commerce initiatives have included online trading hubs, online procurement strategic alliances and global standards for worldwide interoperability.

About Visa International

As the "World's Best Way to Pay," Visa is the world's leading payment brand and the largest payment system worldwide with more volume than all other major payment cards combined. Visa plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. Visa has more than 80 smart card programs in 35 countries and on the Internet, with 23 million Visa chip cards, including 8 million Visa Cash cards. Visa is pioneering SET Secure Electronic Transcation programs to enable and advance Internet commerce. There are over 880 million Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink, PLUS and Visa Cash cards, which generate more than US$1.4 trillion in annual volume. Visa-branded cards are accepted at over 18 million worldwide locations, including at more than 530,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network. Visa's Internet address is


Casey Watson
Visa International


Alison Gillies
GCI Group
Tel: 212-537-8082

Prepared by Robin Cover for the The SGML/XML Web Page archive.

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