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€2.6bn to be spent on Visa cards across Europe as people prepare for final rush on busiest shopping day

London, 22 December 2011 - Friday 23rd December is set to be the busiest ever day for shopping across Europe, according to a forecast by Visa Europe. The payments technology company expects to process almost 50 million transactions, worth more than €2.6 billion, throughout the day as people hunt for their last minute Christmas purchases.

Throughout the day, shoppers are expected to use their Visa cards to spend almost €2 million every minute, with more than 70% of this spend set to take place on Visa debit cards. This record spend equates to year-on-year growth of approximately 9%.

According to historical trend data from Visa Europe, the busiest shopping day has always fallen on the 23rd December. However, Visa Europe is predicting that the busiest ever shopping hour will actually fall outside of the busiest shopping day. With Christmas Eve taking place on a Saturday, Visa Europe predicts the biggest volume of transactions will take place in the hour from 12:00 until 13:00 on Christmas Eve as shoppers take advantage of the last work-free day before the festivities begin and they relax ahead of Christmas Day.

Visa Europe’s processing centre, which has the ability to manage over 2,500 transactions per second, will be well equipped to deal with the expected 1,200 transactions taking place every second during the busiest hour across Europe.

Dr Steve Perry, Commercial Director at Visa Europe, comments:

"We’ve already seen strong growth in online sales and we expect that the 23rd will be the busiest ever shopping day for the amount of money spent on Visa cards, increasing by 9% compared against last year."

"While the 23rd will be the busiest day in total, we are predicting that the hour when the most number of transactions will take place will fall on Christmas Eve. As the 24th is a Saturday, we predict that more last minute shopping than usual will take place with a surge in transactions expected from 12.00 until 13.00."

Visa bases its predictions on up to the minute spending data and previous years’ Christmas spending trends. Over €1 in every €8 spent in Europe is on a Visa card, making this data one of the most reliable indicators of trends in consumer spending.

About Visa Europe

In Europe, there are 430 million Visa debit, credit and commercial cards. In the 12 months ending March 2011 those cards were used to make purchases and cash withdrawals to the value of €1.6 trillion. 12.5% of consumer spending at point of sale in Europe is with a Visa card, and more than 70% of that is on Visa debit cards.

Visa Europe is owned and operated by more than 4,000 European member banks and was incorporated in July 2004. In October 2007, Visa Europe became independent of the new global Visa Inc., with an exclusive, irrevocable and perpetual licence in Europe. As a dedicated European payment system it is able to respond quickly to the specific market needs of European banks and their customers - cardholders and retailers - and to meet the European Commission’s objective to create a true internal market for payments.

Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world. In addition, Visa/PLUS is one of the world’s largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in over 200 countries.

For more information, visit http://www.visaeurope.com/