WHAT IS 'Banknet'

Banknet is a global network operated by MasterCard that facilitates authorization of credit card transactions from almost any point in the world. Banknet is one of the world's largest global telecommunications networks. It links all MasterCard members and data processing centers into a single financial network.

Banknet enables MasterCard's side of an authorization transaction to be performed within seconds. Before Banknet, a payment through MasterCard took approximately 650 milliseconds to process. Banknet has cut down that time to 210 milliseconds.

The network's hub is located in MasterCard's Global Technology and Operations headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. According to MasterCard, the network’s hub and data warehouse are considered, “one of the most robust data centers in the world.” The St. Louis facility houses 80 terabytes of data on past transactions. Whenever the system undergoes a change or upgrade, the company tests the new system on 30 million practice transactions before implementing the change.


Bankent launched in 1997. Today, MasterCard runs on of the world’s largest credit and debit card networks. The company holds over 20 percent of the global market share within its industry, with more that 190 million cards in circulation throughout the world.

Banknet operates as a virtual private network, or VPN. In this way, the network is capable of completing over two million transaction per hour while keeping both parties’ information secure. To do this, the network relies on over 1,000 data centers that function as endpoints. These data centers are located throughout the world. Each of these data centers is equipped with dual router technology. The redundancy of this technology provides automatic backups of transaction in the event that a shutdown occurs.

Banknet’s technology uses asynchronous data transfer for transactions. This allows the network to regulate the use of its bandwith  to match demand at any given time. This function allows the system to function optimally when demand is highest. For this technology and others, Banknet primarily partners with AT&T.

Visa vs. MasterCard

Unlike Banknet’s peer-to-peer network, Visa handles transactions through a centralized, or “star-based” system. This type of network connects its many endpoints to only a few main data centers. In this way, Banknet functions more efficiently, with greater flexibility and less risk of failure. This is because if one of Banknet’s data centers fails, there are many others online. If one of the data centers in Visa’s network fails, a larger portion of its transactions will be affected. This can create bottlenecks for incoming data and difficulty in isolating the point of the failure.

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